Neve Spicer takes a look at three inspirational women who’ve changed the face of STEM.
Though the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields have been historically dominated by men, it’s surely no indication that women aren’t equally capable innovators. History has a great deal to say about this, in fact: car heaters and windshield wipers, military Kevlar, and even the circular saw were all invented by women.
Last week (25 February) marks Introduce a Girl To Engineering Day, a global campaign put forth by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The aim of the day is to help young women who have STEM interest and talent to hone their skills, see how their interests fit into a potential career, and engage in real-time, engineering-based problem solving challenges that are both fun and educational.
While the program typically consists of many in-person events facilitated by professionals, volunteers, and educators, many of this year’s events will take place online, opening the event up to an even wider range of potential participants. Visit NSPE’s web portal for more information on the event.
Innovations pioneered by women have changed our world. Let’s meet some of history’s greatest female engineers:
- Ada Lovelace: Often remembered as one of the first computer programmers, this daughter of famed poet Lord Byron is credited with the creation of the first algorithm, defined as a series of actions intended to be performed via machine.
- Hedy Lamarr: Though many first recall her successful career on stage and screen, this Austrian actress was no ingenue; her advice inspired Howard Hughes in the creation of planes with improved aerodynamics, and the spread-spectrum frequency-hopping technology she developed during WWII is the basis for the wireless Internet we use today.
- Judy Resnik: Distinguishing herself through intellect early on, Judy Resnik received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, creating custom circuitry and electronics for the U.S. Navy and NASA before her recruitment into the Astronaut Corps at 28. Judy successfully served as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery, where she became the first Jewish woman, second American woman, and second Jewish person in space. Tragically, Judy and her crewmates perished in her subsequent flight, remembered as the Challenger disaster of 1986.
To learn even more about past and present female heroes of engineering, read and share this handy visualization.