Women Inventors; Helping the Mission

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Leanne Hedgepeth
  • 17th Training Wing Deputy Chief of Public Affairs
This year's Women's History Month theme is "Women inspiring innovation through imagination: celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

From the invention of Kevlar to pioneering in computer systems, the minds of women have helped revolutionize the world, taking ingenuity to new levels. Our society today would not be the same without the contributions of women inventors. Three women come to my mind, often overlooked throughout history, for their inventions influencing present day and future military technologies.

Most commonly known for her role as an actress, Hedy Lamar was a pioneer of wireless communication. According to www.women-inventors.com, "The international beauty icon, along with co-inventor George Anthiel, developed a 'Secret Communications System' to help combat the Nazis in World War II. By manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, the invention formed an unbreakable code to prevent classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel."

Her contribution to the world of technology is without question phenomenal. Life would be much more difficult without the convenience of cellular phones, fax machines and the countless other systems using wireless technology.

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper said, "If you do something once, people will call it an accident. If you do it twice, they call it a coincidence. But do it a third time and you've just proven a natural law!" "www.public.navy.mil" notes Hopper had to prove herself repeatedly to reach her goals. Nonetheless she persevered and became known as the "mother of computing." The highest rank she attained in the Navy was Rear Admiral or O-8.

Hopper led the team that invented Common Business-Oriented Language, the first user-friendly business computer software program, which contributed to the computer systems we use today. A lot of the daily work operations revolve around the convenience of computer technology. Without Hopper's foundation the computer systems we operate on today would likely not exist.

Stephanie Kwolek was a 20th century chemist who became famous in 1960 for her research and experimentation with long molecular chains at low temperatures. She became better known in 1971 when she discovered of a liquid crystalline polymer solution. The solution was incredibly strong and stiff leading to the invention of Kevlar, a synthetic material five times stronger than steel, women-intentors.com documents.

As a military member, I am extremely thankful for Kwolek because I would not want to go downrange without Kevlar.

These three women stood out to me in society for their transformational inventions and impact on today's mission capabilities. Their foundation and sacrifices set the precedent for the technological commodities and necessities we have today. Not only have they contributed greatly to the world of science, their accomplishments help motivate people today.