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The history of engineering education for women helps identify the ways in which observers have interpreted the gendered nature of the engineering profession. Historically, women in engineering programs, even more than in science, stood out due to their rarity. Thus, their very presence led people to confront questions about what it means to be a man or a woman in a technological society, what it means to be a professional engineer. The paper concentrates on four technically-centered schools (RPI, Georgia Tech, Caltech, MIT) which had by policy or for most effective purposes remained all-male up to WWII or beyond. In the debate about whether to become coeducational, faculty, administrators, students, and alumni came to confront a difficult set of issues concerning gender and technology.