Perry (Shaw), Alice Jacqueline (1885–1969), engineer and Christian Scientist, was born in Wellpark, Co. Galway, one of five daughters and one son of James Perry, engineer and county surveyor for Galway, originally from Garvagh, Co. Londonderry, and Martha Perry (née Park), from Port Glasgow, Scotland. Her uncle was the engineer and inventor John Perry (qv). Educated at Millbrook House and the co-educational High School in Galway, where she was encouraged to study mathematics, she won a scholarship to QCG, where she began to study for an arts degree but, having excelled in mathematics during her first year, transferred to engineering. Graduating first in her class with first-class honours (1906), she was the first woman to obtain an engineering degree in the UK. Her sisters also attended QCG at this time; Nettie, a senior scholar in modern languages, later became a lecturer in Spanish at London University, and Molly was considered ‘the most distinguished mathematician of her time in the college’ (O'Sullivan, 31). The Perry sisters were also actively involved in the suffrage campaign in Galway.
She worked as private secretary to her father after graduation; when he died (November 1906) she was appointed acting county surveyor, a post she held from December 1906 till April 1907, making her the country's first woman county surveyor. Her duties entailed travelling throughout Galway and to the islands off its coast, to inspect roads, piers, courthouses, and other buildings. She applied for the permanent position as county surveyor, but was not successful, largely due to her youth and lack of experience. Unable to get work in Ireland she went (1908) to London, where she worked briefly as a fisheries inspector before getting a home office appointment as lady factory inspector, responsible for enforcing laws relating to the employment of women, especially in industries where hazardous chemicals and minerals such as lead, phosphorous, mercury, and asbestos were used. In 1915 she moved to the Glasgow office of the factory inspectorate.
She married (30 September 1916) an English soldier, Robert Shaw, who was killed in action in October 1917. Continuing to work after her marriage and the death of her husband, she retired in July 1921 even though she had been offered a promotion. Although raised a presbyterian, while in Glasgow she became interested in the Christian Science movement; in November 1922 she had a poem published in the Christian Science Journal and in January 1923 moved to Boston, USA, where she spent the remainder of her life working for various Christian Science journals, wrote spiritual poetry, and became a Christian Science practitioner in 1927. She died 21 August 1969 in Boston. In 1996 some volumes of her poetry were donated to the UCG library by her nephew Joss Lynam, the engineer and mountain climber.