July 2013 Women's
Irene Itamura (1939–)
Irene Itamura's rise to become the first woman to lead a Caltrans regional district began when she failed a typing test. In 1958, lacking the typing skills for clerical work, Itamura passed the exam for engineering aide. She rose through the ranks of Caltrans, working in construction, hydraulics and advanced planning. She took night classes in engineering and became a senior transportation engineer in 1983. Itamura headed development of a new Carquinez bridge and a Martinez-Benicia bridge. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, she managed rebuilding of the collapsed I-880 freeway. Itamura led the 11-county Caltrans District 3 for six years.
A passion for discovery: California women trailblazers
in science, technology, engineering and math
The July calendar shines a spotlight on four remarkable women who have achieved success in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The calendar is produced by the California State Library, California Research Bureau, California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and the California Department of Education. Photo and biographical material are courtesy of Caltrans.