Nora Stanton was born in Basingstoke, England on September 30, 1883. As a small child, her family moved to New York. In 1905, she was the first woman to graduate from Cornell University with a Civil Engineering degree. That same year, she became the first female member, with junior status, of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
After graduating from college, Nora worked for the American Bridge Company and for the New York City Board of Water Supply. While taking some classes in electricity and mathematics at Columbia University, she worked as a research assistant for Lee De Forest, who invented the radio vacuum tube. They eventually married and Nora worked for his company until 1909, when the two separated. They divorced in 1912. Nora returned to New York City and worked as an assistant engineer and chief draftsman at the Radley Steel Construction Company. She also served as an assistant engineer for the New York Public Service Commission.
In 1914, she began working part-time as an architect and developer on Long Island. Nora applied to the ASCE in 1916 for an upgrade to associate membership since she had passed the age limit for junior status. Her request was denied. She filed a lawsuit against the ASCE, which gained notoriety despite the fact that she eventually lost. In 1919, Nora married a marine architect, Morgan Barney. In 1923, they moved to Connecticut, where she became a real estate developer.
Nora, like her grandmother Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was involved in work for world peace and women's rights. In 1915, she became the president of the Women's Political Union. She participated in the efforts for a federal Equal Rights Amendment. In her later years, she remained politically active, writing pamphlets such as Woman as Human Beings and World Peace Through a Peoples Parliament.
Nora Stanton died in Greenwich, Connecticut, on January 18, 1971.
Photo taken from the National Photo Company Collection at the US Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-03521).