From early computers, to wartime inventions, the beginnings of the internet and beyond. Women have always been innovators in technology and science breaking down barriers in the process.
In honour of International Women's Day, I've chosen to highlight the women who inspire and influence me. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be showcasing ten women who #ChooseToChallenge, open doors for others, and have changed the world.
The first woman in this series is actress, inventor, and technologist Hedy Lamarr.
Well known for her iconic roles in films of the 1930s and 1940s, Hedy was also an inventor. She improved the aerodynamics of Howard Hughes planes by designing a new wing shape and created technology that would become the wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth we use today.
Born in Austria, Hedy began acting in her teens and played significant roles in European films during the 1930s. She ultimately escaped an overly-controlling husband to London, then sailed to the United States. She continued her acting career in New York City and Hollywood, starring in MGM films and beginning a new life. During this time she also honed her skills as an inventor and technologist.
The technology she developed with fellow inventor George Antheil used rapidly changing radio frequencies to prevent enemies from decoding messages. This system is called ‘frequency hopping’ and was a precursor to modern cellphone security as well as military communications.
Hedy wasn’t recognised for her inventions until years later when her patent had long lapsed. However, she did go on to become the first woman to receive the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award.
I love Hedy's story and how she pursued her interests in technology while working in film. She dedicated so much energy to inventing, all while the world knew her as simply 'the most beautiful woman in the world'.
There's a lot more to Hedy's story so check out the links to learn more about her life.
- Hedy Lamarr on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- The Girls in the White Dress
- Hedy Lamarr: The Incredible Mind Behind Secure WiFi, GPS And Bluetooth
- How Sexism Punished Inventor Hedy Lamarr
- Thank This World War II-Era Film Star for Your Wi-Fi
Image source: Wikicommons