Tuesday, June 21st, 2022On June 23, we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, honoring women’s remarkable discoveries and achievements in the engineering space. Taking the time to learn more about these female trail-blazers is an excellent way to encourage young girls to explore STEM areas. Seeing the accomplishments of brilliant women like Edith Clarke and Patricia Bath busts through the gender-fueled stereotypes that many hold about engineering.
Of course, we've come a long way through the centuries, but there is still a wide divide between men and women in the engineering world. Hopefully, by shining a light on these incredible women and their accomplishments, we can continue to close the gap. These women not only inspire, but they are proof that you can do anything, regardless of gender.
Edith ClarkeEdith Clarke is a woman of many firsts in the engineering field. She became the first woman to earn her degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also worked for General Electric (GE) for almost 30 years.
After just two years with the company, she became an electrical engineer on salary, which was quite the feat during this period. After her time with GE, she began teaching at the University of Texas. She was the first female professor to teach electrical engineering in the United States.
The Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (currently the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) elected Clarke into the Institute in 1948. She was the first woman to gain this recognition.
Ada LovelaceYou can trace the birth of computer programming back to the 1800s and English-born mathematician Ada Lovelace. She was a close friend of Charles Babbage (known as the father of computer science). Babbage had extensive plans for what he called the “Analytical Engine.” (Essentially, it was the idea for a very early computer.) Babbage asked Italian mathematician, Luigi Federico Manabrea, to write an academic paper explaining the machine.
Lovelace later translated the paper, including more in-depth descriptions and explanations, adding roughly 12,000 words to the original. She also proposed a specific algorithm that people recognize as the first computer program. As the first computer programmer, she essentially became the mother of computer science.
Hedy LamarrWhen you sign in to your Wifi or talk on your phone hands-free in the car, you can thank Hedy Lamarr. Many know this Austrian-born beauty as the ultimate sex symbol and talented actress of Hollywood’s Golden Era. But, she was also a brilliant inventor. She created a system of frequency-hopping technology designed to keep radio signals and transmissions secure during the war.
Although her name was left off the patent, the US military publicly acknowledged her contributions. This remarkable technology became the springboard for things like GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth, and similar communications that people now use worldwide.
Patricia BathResearch scientist and ophthalmologist Patricia Bath overcame the challenges of racism and sexism as she paved her way through the medical field. She was the first female faculty member in UCLA’s Department of Opthamalology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute.
Most notably, she invented the Laserphaco Probe, a device and technique used for laser cataract surgery. Because of this achievement, she was able to restore eyesight to thousands and advocate for blindness prevention, cures, and treatment.
Stephanie KwolekDubbed as one of the first female chemists in America, Stephanie Kwolek gets the credit for Kevlar🄬. Thanks to her efforts, law enforcement has bulletproof vests to help protect them in the field. Also, you’ll find Kevlar🄬 in many other important areas including helmets, spacecraft, and protective gloves.
Motivating a New Generation of Women Engineers
Reading books about successful and inspiring women are great ways to motivate your daughter to try new things. She’ll also love our interactive games that spark interest in engineering and much more, like our Robot Workshop. These activities also show boys and girls that there’s room for everyone in the STEM fields, and together we can do amazing things.
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