Cherokee Nation

2019 – Science,

Mary Golda Ross was the first known Native American female engineer and the first female engineer in the history of Lockheed. Mary, who began working for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in 1942, helped design the P-38 fighter plane. She was one of the 40 founding engineers—and the only Native American and the only woman—on the team of Lockheed’s highly secretive Advanced Development Programs, which became known as the Skunk Works Project. She is best remembered for her work on the aerospace design. She worked at Lockheed until her retirement in 1973.

During her retirement, Mary worked to recruit young women and Native Americans to engineering careers. At the age of 96, she participated in the opening ceremonies of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In 2008, upon her death, Mary left a $400,000 endowment to the Museum. In 2019, Mary was depicted on the $1 coin by the U.S. Mint as they celebrated American Indians in the Space Program.