Gleason did not have any thorough training in engineering although she did attend Cornell Univ, as a 'special student' in 1884 to study mechanical arts. She also attended the Sibley College of Engraving and the Mechanics Institute (which is now the Rochester Inst. of Technology) part time while she was at Cornell.
She began her career at her father's machine-tool factory where she propelled it into the leading U.S. producer of gear-cutting machinery prior to World War I.
During World War I the president of the First National Bank of Rochester resigned to join the military. So from 1917 to 1919 she served as its president, becoming the first woman to be the president of a national bank. During that time she began to promote the large-scale development of low-cost housing and set to work on projects related to this.
In 1918 she became the first women elected to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. It was through her reputation in the housing construction field and the machine-tool business that this came about. She also served as the society's representative to the World Power Conference in Germany in 1930.
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