Marlborough woman defies gender bias to become city’s first female draftsman

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Submitted by Linda L. Rennie, Marlborough Historical Society

Janet Doucette Licht

Marlborough – Janet Doucette Licht is a shining example of what young women could do in a time when many things were unacceptable for them because of their gender.

In 1966, Janet Doucette Licht became the first female graduate from the two-year post graduate study program of the Marlborough High School Vocational School (now the Assabet Valley Regional Technical School). Licht, a 1964 Marlborough High School graduate, decided to complete her studies in drafting after she had excelled in the mechanical drawing classes.

In 1960, she registered for art classes at the high school, then located on Main Street, now the Walker Building. She was interested in the art classes that included mechanical drawing. When the principal realized that a woman had signed up for these classes, he immediately brought it to the attention of the teacher and her parents. Licht’s father was very supportive of her desire to take these classes, so for the next four years she was the only woman to participate in mechanical drawing and completed the study at the top of her class.

While she attended classes full time at the vocational school, she worked three part-time jobs to contribute to the support of her family. Upon graduating, Licht was offered a drafting position at General Electric in Ashland. Before accepting this position, she was also considered for a drafting one at Digital Corporation; however, there were no other women in the Digital drafting department and they had to withdraw their job offer.

Licht worked at General Electric for many years. She left briefly when her children were young and returned at the company’s request. Later she worked at Riley Stoker in Worcester, where she participated in designing power plants for paper mills. She rose to the position of drafting supervisor there.

While her children were still young, Licht decided to complete her education beginning at Northeastern University and finishing at Central New England in Westborough. She graduated with an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Janet Doucette Licht

Upon retirement, Licht joined the Board of Trustees of the Marlborough Historical Society, serving as president for 10 years before retiring because of poor health. During her tenure she made many changes to the society and supported its growth.

Marlborough is proud that she excelled in our city and is a true role model for young women today.

Janet Doucette Licht, the city of Marlborough thanks you.

Photos/submitted