Note that I'm not asking about when a female chief engineer was a main character, just when it was first mentioned that a female was a chief engineer of any Starfleet vessel.

Also note that I'm looking for the first episode or movie to have aired that had mention of a female chief engineer, not the canonically first fictional female chief engineer.

  • 3
    Your question needs clarity: "First" by in-universe star date, or "first" by out-of-universe, chronological, real-world Earth calendar air- (or release-) date? You've got one good answer for each...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 17:13
  • 3
    Ah, good point. Apologies, my goal was "first by publication/airing date", not "first in the canon" Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 17:21
  • Heather Mills was noted to be the Enterprise's Assistant Chief Engineer in TOS: The Klingon Gambit (from 1982); memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Heather_McConel
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 16:37

2 Answers 2


Off the top of my head, I believe the earliest appearance (in real world time) of a female chief engineer on a Starfleet vessel was in TNG S01E03, "The Naked Now", which first aired on the 5th of October 1987.

Prior to Geordi La Forge becoming sole chief engineer of the Enterprise-D at the start of Season 2, the ship had several chief engineers in rotation, one of them being Lieutenant Commander MacDougal. She held that position in 2364, in-universe.

enter image description here

She's visible a few times in the video below (a clip from "The Naked Now"), and has a line of dialogue at around the 0:45 mark.

  • 1
    It's true that McDougal was a female chief engineer, but it's not yet clear if she was the first canonical reference to a female being a chief. I'll hold off on accepting for now but thanks for the quick reply. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 13:20
  • 1
    @Michael Stachowsky - I wouldn't have advised you to accept an answer this early; like I said, this was purely off the top of my head. I'll look around and see if I can find any earlier examples, if someone doesn't beat me to it. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 13:28
  • 1
    Process of elimination there likely wasn't even any novels not focused on the original Enterprise circa 1988 and STIV doesn't mention any details on who is trying to get the Yorktown's power back up. So this is almost certainly correct. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 13:53
  • She held that position in 2364, in-universe.. That's the way of future proofing your answers :-)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 19:47
  • I didn't see this episode. One thing I wonder about is why Picard gave Data a shot, right around the 2:00 minute mark of the video. He's an android, it should have had no effect on him.
    – user143126
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 17:07

In-universe, there are a several female chief engineers that pre-date Lieutenant Commander MacDougal serving on the Enterprise-D under Captain Picard in 2364;

Lieutenant Commander Caitlan Barry served as Chief Engineer aboard the original USS Enterprise under Captain Pike sometime around 2254.

Number One twisted in midair and angled her body so she caromed off the side wall of the null-G ball court using her right leg to push her back toward the center. Chief Engineer Caitlin Barry had anticipated the move and shot in front of the exec, body-blocking her away from the ball. The collision of bodies sent them careening off in opposite directions, but Caitlin had managed to backhand the ball, slapping it toward the catch-trap goal in Number One’s end of the court. As Number One somersaulted in the air to land with her feet against the end wall under Caitlin’s goal, she saw the ball hurtle straight through the catch trap and in. The Scoreboard honked and racked up the three points for the chief engineer.

Star Trek: Vulcan's Glory

Commander Jett Reno was Chief Engineer of the USS Hiawatha sometime around 2257.

Commander Jett Reno was Chief Engineer of the U.S.S. Hiawatha when it crash-landed on an asteroid. She transferred to the U.S.S. Discovery after they were rescued.

enter image description here

StarTrek.com - Jett Reno (Database Article)

Lieutenant Bexx was the Chief Engineer on the USS Hunley under Captain Linneus circa 2275.

Harriman moved through Hunley’s engine room, waiting anxiously for word from Lieutenant Bexx. He paced back and forth behind the chief engineer, trying not to disturb her as she worked at an environmental-control console, but—“Anything?” he asked, stopping beside her. From an intellectual standpoint, he understood the requirements of command, and the need to allow people to do their jobs, but however much time they had, he knew that it must be running out quickly.

Star Trek: The Lost Era - Serpents Among the Ruins

  • Based on the sources you've provided, the first mentions/appearances of Barry (1989), Reno (2019) and Bexx (2003) all post-date MacDougal's (1987), although they were all around before her in-universe. My impression is that the question was asking for the first mention or appearance in real world time, but I guess we'll have to wait for the OP to confirm precisely what they were looking for one way or the other. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 17:20
  • Ah, that is correct, sorry for the confusion. This is great info thoug Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 17:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.