celebrate the “sheroes” of tech
March is Women’s History Month in the US, UK, and Australia. We here at illumy want to take time to honor the women of the world—past and present—and the ways they improved our lives and paved the way for future technologies.
Though we’re a young tech startup, illumy is proud to have women in leadership roles. And women who serve in mid-level positions have full autonomy to make decisions for the company related to their jobs. The women who work at illumy are all strong, smart, and not easily intimidated. It’s why we were hired, actually. 😎
In addition to celebrating the XX-chromosome energy that helped bring illumy to market, we also honor the amazing accomplishments of women who created the math, science, and technologies that made it possible to create illumy. Their inventions and accomplishments benefit society every day.
Radia Joy Perlman
You’re reading this on the internet, so it makes sense to start with Radia “Don’t Call Me the Mother of the Internet” Perlman. Though she didn’t actually invent the internet (that was a collective effort by the military and others), Dr. Perlman, who held three degrees from MIT, wrote the algorithm behind the spanning-tree protocol (more widely known as “STP”), an essential part of the internet’s infrastructure.
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper
The oldest serving officer when she retired, Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was a Navy Rear Admiral, earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University in 1934 and is widely recognized as the Queen of Software. Dr. Hopper is responsible for the development of the first computer language compiler and the development of Flow-Matic, the first programming language to use English-like commands. She worked on the famed UNIVAC I, helped pushed COBOL into wide use, and has a missile destroyer named for her: U.S.S. Hopper. 🚢
Gladys Mae West
When you location-tag your Instagram photos or use your phone’s GPS for directions, be sure to give a nod to Gladys Mae West, the African American mathematician who made global positioning satellite technology possible. Since Earth 🌏 isn’t a perfect sphere, precisely measuring distances over its surface was almost impossible. Using data from an ocean-sensing satellite, Dr. West developed and refined a precise mathematical model of the actual shape of our planet. This modeling is what determines the position of a GPS receiver, making navigation by satellite possible.
Katharine Burr Blodgett
Do you wear eyeglasses or use a computer? If so, you have Katharine Burr Blodgett to thank. The first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University—and the first woman hired by General Electric—Dr. Blodgett invented quite a few things, including life-saving gas masks. And her work in chemistry was groundbreaking. She developed non-reflective or “invisible” glass, without which we wouldn’t have cameras, car windshields, eyeglasses, or the computer screen you’re reading this on. 💻
WiFi was arguably one of the greatest advances in networking technology. It’s becoming ubiquitous in most cities and towns, making the internet accessible to more people than ever before. Genius inventor-turned-Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr crafted frequency-hopping radio signals to guide torpedoes during WWII. This technology was the genesis for technologies such as WiFi and Bluetooth. Dubbed “The Mother of WiFi,” Ms. Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Kevlar, the famed bulletproof material used by law enforcement, was invented by DuPont chemist Stephanie Kwolek. Not only has Kevlar saved thousands of lives, it’s also found in car tires, firefighters’ boots, skis, armored vehicles, building materials, and fiber-optic cables. Fiber-optic cables provide higher bandwidth and transmit data over longer distances than cables that are made of strands of wire. If you use gigabit fiber or make landline long-distance calls, you have Ms. Kwolek to thank.
We honor and celebrate these amazing technological advances from some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Happy Women’s History Month!
Photo courtesy of WOC In Tech