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Diversity

Breaking Barriers:

The Raye Montague Story

Born in segregated Arkansas in the 1930s, Raye Montague was never expected to amount to much. She wasn't supposed to. But after visiting a captured German submarine during World War II, Montague decided she wanted to become an engineer.


The only engineering program in the state wouldn't take black students, but that didn't matter. Montague had grit and drive and determination.

She moved to Washington, D.C., and went to work for the Navy. After teaching herself to use a 1950s computer, Montague eventually became so proficient that she revolutionized Navy shipbuilding. Indeed, her computer program streamlined the design process from two years to a day and a half.

"I had to fight like the devil ... to get the opportunities," she said, "but I think they were so stunned that here was this person who defied all odds in doing things. ... I broke an awful lot of barriers, and I'm very grateful to the Navy."

For more information on women's impact on the Navy, click here.