Here are some of the women in Boeing past and present who should be looked to for inspiration for future generations. Clockwise from top left: Elizabeth Lund, Anabella Morgan, Bessie Hall Dempsey, Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann and Ellen Church.

Inspirational women of Boeing: 5 who deserve recognition

EVERETT — It’s such a good idea that it needs to be copied.

Lego created the Women of NASA Lego set earlier this year to shed light on women who have played historical and critical roles in the space program.

The set with five Lego figurines aims to promote women whose contributions are unknown or underappreciated.

It also encourages a new generation of girls to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics, commonly known as the STEM professions.

Science writer Maia Weinstock came up with the concept in the Lego Ideas competition, which allows fans to submit ideas that potentially could be turned into Lego sets.

But this is a Boeing town — and a Funko town. So which women historical and present day should be immortalized with Funko figures?

The book “Trailblazers: The Women of the Boeing Company” offers an excellent summary of the women who pioneered aerospace for the company.

Here are five nominees:

Ellen Church: The pre-eminent woman of Boeing’s early days, Church was a pilot and a nurse who approached the company seeking to fly an airplane commercially. Boeing Air Transport, as it was called then, didn’t hire her, but was intrigued by another of her ideas.

Church recommended putting nurses on airplanes to combat the fear of flying. She was hired as the company’s head stewardess and she recruited other women who eventually came to be called the sky girls. The concept of flight attendants has become a staple of the industry.

Church eventually did get in the pilot’s seat — flying a Model 80A for 20 hours from Chicago to San Francisco. She then served as a captain in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

Annabella Morgan: Rosie the Riveter is almost synonymous with Boeing’s efforts during World War II. Thousands of woman flocked to the Puget Sound area to build the planes that helped win the war.

One of those women was Annabella Morgan, who rode the train from New Orleans to Seattle shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was hired at Boeing as a “rivet bucker” for B-17s, becoming part of a wave of African-American Rosies.

Morgan was promoted to riveter with a pay increase from 99 cents to $1.29 an hour. She recalls in the “Trailblazers” book the clapping and cheering when President Harry Truman announced the war was over. Her job ended shortly after that.

Bessie Marie Dempsey: In 1974, Boeing employed 330 women as engineers. That has grown to the thousands. The first woman to work as an aeronautical engineer at Boeing was Bessie Marie Dempsey.

She started her career as a ballerina, vaudeville dancer and Hollywood star. She was a dancer in “A Night at the Opera” with the Marx Brothers, according to “Trailblazers.”

But she gave up the entertainment career to study mechanical engineering. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class and joined Boeing in 1948. She worked for the company for 24 years.

Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann: Capt. Darcy-Hennemann joined Boeing in 1974 as an engineer, but her career would take her to the skies.

In 1985, she became the first woman hired as a test pilot at Boeing. In 1989, she became the first woman rated as a captain on the 747-400.

In 2005, she and her crew flew a 777-200LR from Hong Kong to London, breaking the distance record in the greater-than-661,000-pound weight class.

She was the first woman to join the elite Boeing Engineering Flight Test group. She would later serve as Boeing’s chief training pilot for more than 550 instructors worldwide.

Elizabeth Lund: As one of the top Boeing executives in Snohomish County, Lund stands out. She’s been the vice president and general manager of the 777 program in Everett since 2013.

In the role, she leads the design, development, certification, production and delivery of all models of the Boeing 777 airplanes in production.

Lund trained as a mechanical engineer and has held leadership positions in engineering, program management, manufacturing, and supplier management across Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

She earlier headed the 747 program and worked on the Air Force KC-X tanker program.

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