In 1884 at the age of 19 Kate Gleason enrolled into the Cornell Mechanical Arts program, She was the first female student to attend for engineering.However she ended up leaving before the end of her first academic year to help her father. Her father had hired a man to replace her in the Business but the firm started struggling financially and her father could no longer afford to pay Kate’s replacement and he called her home to help again at Gleason Works. She never was able to complete the requirements for a degree but through training and self-learning she earned the title of Engineer and is recognized for her accomplishments. She did get some further education at Sibley College of Engraving and The Mechanics Institute which is now Rochester Institute of Technology
Gleason was a supporter of women's suffrage. According to an account of 1912 National America Woman Suffrage Association Convention mentions Gleason as having promised $1,200 to the suffrage movement, one of its largest pledges. Many of Kate Gleason's personal writings testify to her and her father's contributions to women's suffrage. Gleason viewed marriage as a hindrance to her professional life and she never married nor had children.
Due to conflicts with her family she left Gleason Works in 1913 and found work at the Ingle Machining Company.She Joined Ingle Machine Company on the 1st of January 1914. She was appointed the receiver of bankruptcy for the company the first women to ever do so. Under her guidance she restored the company and repaid their outstanding debts. The company was returned to the stockholders before the end of 1915.After her endeavors with Ingle Machine Company she turned her attention to East Rochester where she helped to Finance and build 8 factories for various companies. In 1914, she was the first woman elected to full membership in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and represented the society at the World Power Conference in Germany. In 1918, she was appointed the President of First National Bank of East Rochester while the previous President was enlisted in World War I. During this period she took charge of a Problem loan and used it to finish the housing complexes left from the previous loan holder. She used this to further her humanitarian efforts in Rochester, starting eight companies, including a construction company that built houses for the middle class. After this success she took it upon herself to experiment with concrete to build cheap fireproof houses at an affordable cost using a pouring method she developed. After this success she described her methods in an article she wrote for a trade magazine, Concrete, in 1921 titled “How Women Builds Houses to Sell at a Profit for $4000”. Later, she left Rochester for Business opportunities in South Carolina and California. In the 1920s she rebuilt a castle in Septmonts France for herself. As well as helping the surrounding towns to recover from the damage left from the world war. During this time period she also toured California to study adobe buildings. In 1924, she was asked by Berkeley, California to help them rebuild after a fire. In the late 20’s she began to build more poured concrete buildings in Sausalito, California, but she ran into some more issues and the project was not as successful as her buildings in Rochester. Then at her winter home in Beaufort,South Carolina she had plans to make a community of garden apartments for artists and Writers but only 10 of these homes were completed at the time of her death.
She died January 9, 1933 of pneumonia and is interred in Riverside Cemetery in Rochester. She left much of her $1.4 million estate to institutions in the Rochester area, including libraries, parks, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Kate Gleason College of Engineering at RIT is named in her honor, and her bust stands proudly in the hallway. Kate Gleason Hall is an RIT residence hall. Gleason Works is still in operation today and retains a strong connection with RIT. In 2010, RIT press published a collection of Gleason's letters.