March is the month in which we claim the role of women in our society. Despite being ostracized for millennia, women have played a key role in the greatest scientific advances in history. Let’s review some of them.
March 8 is already far away, but that is not why we should forget that this month is important to remember that women have been in society for as long as men, contributing and improving the world around us.
History often forgets that, among so many geniuses and inventors, there were also women who contributed their grain of sand to a road to progress that thousands and thousands of people have paved throughout history. Both men and women.
That’s why today we highlight some of the most brilliant and fascinating women who have had a huge impact on society and everyday life. As a society, we owe it to them:
1st Hedy Lamarr, 1914-2000. Inventor of frequency hopping or the mother of WiFi: Hedy Lemarr was known for her acting and striking beauty, but it wasn’t until years later that she got the recognition she deserved for her landmark invention.
Lemarr, along with another inventor named George Antheil, devised a frequency hopping system of radio waves to guide torpedoes, allowing them to find their target while avoiding interception. Although his patent expired decades ago, his technology is used in WiFi and GPS.
2nd Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852. The first computer algorithm: In the mid-19th century, at a time when it was very rare for a woman to learn mathematical and scientific disciplines, Ada Lovelace made her mark in the field of computer science.
Lovelace has even been called the first computer programmer, since she translated a paper on an analytical engine and added extensive notes. In her notes, she included an algorithm that allowed the engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers. It is considered the first published algorithm.
3rd Mary Anderson, 1866-1953. Inventor of the windshield wiper: Mary Anderson, pioneer of automotive innovation, devised what would become the modern windshield wiper. Her 1903 patent was for a device that could be actuated by the driver inside the vehicle.
Before windshield wipers, drivers had to manually remove rain. Thanks to Anderson’s innovation, today’s roads are much safer when it rains or snows.
4th Gertrude Belle Elion, 1918-1999. Leukemia drug and other medical innovations: Gertrude Belle Elion obtained US Patent No. 2,884,667, along with George H. Hitchings, for 2-Amino-6-Mercaptopurine: A Compound That Helps Treat Leukemia.
Along with George Hitchings and Sir James Black, Elion was awarded the Noble Prize in 1988.
5th Dr. Ann Tsukamoto. Advances in stem cells: An inventor and stem cell researcher, Dr. Tsukamoto holds several patents in the field of stem cell research. One of her most significant discoveries was finding a way to isolate stem cells.
A doctor of microbiology and immunology, Dr. Tsukamoto’s research has been instrumental in cancer research and in helping to find treatments for other diseases.
6th Letitia Geer, 1853-1935. The one-handed syringe: Letitia Geer patented the one-handed syringe in 1899, which made it easier for medical professionals to draw blood and administer life-saving medications.
An advance on Franic Rynd’s hollow needle and Charles Pravaz and Alexander Wood’s hypodermic syringe that preceded him, Geer’s invention enabled safer and more efficient operation in the medical field.
7th Marie Curie, 1867-1934. Radium, polonium and radiation in medicine: Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her research on radiation phenomena. In 1911, Curie received another Nobel Prize for the isolation of radium.
Along with her husband Pierre Curie, she discovered that radium destroyed diseased cells, and at a faster rate than healthy cells. This led them to investigate applications in medicine (for example, tumors).
Marie Curie ended up bringing portable X-ray machines to doctors on the front lines during World War I. In 1920 she began to suffer from health problems, probably from exposure to radioactive materials, and she died in 1934.
8th Stephanie Kwolek, 1923-2014. Kevlar: Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist and researcher at DuPont, is credited with creating the ultra-tough fabric now used in bulletproof gear, which would come to be known as Kevlar.
He made the discovery in 1965 while observing how “polyamide molecules align to form liquid crystalline polymer solutions of exceptional strength and rigidity,” according to the American Chemical Society.
Kevlar is present in numerous products, such as bulletproof vests, tires, military equipment, and other commercial products.
9th Patricia Bath, 1942-2019. Laser Cataract Surgery: Dr. Bath has five patents in total, but her most notable contribution is for the Laserphaco Probe. When Patricia Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe in 1986, it was a life-changing invention for people suffering from cataracts.
Thanks to Bath, thousands of people around the world can now see clearly.