There have always been extraordinary women in STEM… it just wasn’t called that in the 1800s. Meet these five incredible engineers and learn about their achievements.
By Brooke Chaplan (Freelance Writer)
Throughout history, women have contributed to science and engineering, and made our lives better. Oftentimes, you never hear about their amazing accomplishments.
Here are just a few little-known women with impressive scientific accomplishments and how they helped change the world:
Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852
Ada made notes on the calculator and designed algorithms for its use. She also saw the possibility of using it for more than calculating; for example, she wrote that it could be instructed to compose music. Because of her work, she’s considered a pioneer of computer science and the first computer programmer.
Martha J. Coston, 1826-1904
Martha J. Coston was 21 years old and needed a way to support herself after her husband died. He had been working on a signal flare for ships, and Martha studied chemistry and began to perfect it.
When she added a blue color to the red and white, it was able to send the necessary signals. The U.S. Navy bought the flare, and Coston set up a company to manufacture it, which was in business until the 1970s.
Edith Clarke, 1883-1959
Edith Clarke was the first woman to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT. She began her career at General Electric and invented a device to make electric power transmission go more smoothly through power lines.
Olive Dennis, 1885-1957
Only the second woman to graduate from Cornell with a degree in civil engineering, Olive also had a master’s in math from Columbia. She started with the B&O railroad as a draftsman. Over time she became responsible for passenger comfort, and she invented a window that could be opened by passengers, reclining seats and a way to air-condition the railroad cars.
Hedy Lamarr, 1913-2000
Hedy Lamarr was a famous Hollywood actress from Austria who was also an inventor during World War II. She devised a way to jam enemy signals that interfered with torpedoes and received a patent for it.
The technique was called frequency hopping and was a forerunner of Bluetooth technology. The U.S. Navy began to use frequency hopping during the 1960s.
These women were all great achievers. You can also be an achiever, when you put your mind to any problem, so honor their memory! Follow their example and find out how to use your passions to your advantage.
Who are your unsung STEM heroines?
Photo credit: Original studio publicity photo of Hedy Lamarr.