When Sara Torrence was a student at Southern Methodist University and considered a career as an officer in the Foreign Service, someone told her to consider marrying a Foreign Service officer instead of becoming one, she said.

"I was furious, just furious," said Torrence, who is now 46 and said she finds such comments less frequent but still bothersome.

Torrence never went into the Foreign Service, but instead chose to work her way up the governmental ladder, becoming chief of special activities at the National Bureau of Standards.

Often during her career, she said, she was the only woman at business meetings and the first female supervisor for some male government workers.

This week she will record another first, becoming the Potomac Rotary Club's only female member.

Torrence is one of the first women to benefit from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in May upholding state laws that require all-male public service organizations to allow women to join. Since then, Rotary and other service clubs have moved to allow women.

Torrence, according to Rotary International spokeswoman Susan Bender, is one of the first, if not the first, female to become a Rotarian in metropolitan Washington.

"I've always been sort of on the forefront," said Torrence.

Although Torrence has seen sexism firsthand, she doesn't view the previously all-male Rotary club as a sexist organization. "It's hard to put the club in {the sexism} light in my mind because they do so many good things," she said. "I always thought the club would be richer for accepting women."

Torrence, who said she looks forward to the chance to make business contacts and do community-oriented work through Rotary, will not be a new face to club members.

She was a member and president of the Inner Wheel, the club for the wives of Rotarians. Her husband James, a nuclear engineer, is a Rotary member who sponsored his wife for membership, she said.

"She can handle her own in an all-men's club very well," said her husband, who describes her as well-respected and accomplished in her profession.

The Potomac Rotary Club, which raises money for local charities and projects, has already decided to put Torrence's public affairs talents to work on publicizing the Polio Plus program, a drive to have children in Third World countries immunized, according to club spokesman Earl Wilson.

Other civic clubs also are moving toward admitting women as members. The day after the Supreme Court decision, Lions Club International executives sent letters to U.S. clubs encouraging them to admit women, according to spokesman Patrick Cannon. Kiwanis International voted this month in a convention in Washington to open membership to women. The Jaycees voted to admit women as members after a court decision in July 1984 that the organization was subject to antidiscrimination laws.