Celebrating Women Pioneers in Technology

Every March, the extraordinary contributions of women throughout history are recognized during Women’s History Month. This year, The National Women’s History Project has selected “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination” as its theme for the celebration.

The imaginations and contributions of women inventors have revolutionized the way people live their everyday lives, including several key innovations that helped shape modern communications.

Spread spectrum, a frequency hopping technology used in wireless communications, was invented during World War II by Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr and her partner George Anthiel, a composer. Together, they developed a groundbreaking “Secret Communications System” that manipulated radio frequencies, allowing classified messages and signals to be sent securely. It is still used today in Wi-Fi technology.

In the 1960s, Stephanie Kwolek, an American chemist and inventor for DuPont, was tasked with developing a fiber to build strong, lightweight tires. During this project, she discovered a material five times stronger than steel with half the density of fiberglass, opening the door to limitless applications. Today, this super fiber is known as Kevlar and is used for protective purposes in items like vests for law enforcement and covers for smartphones like the DROID RAZR HD.

In the future, women who are developing innovative wireless technology and applications at places like the Verizon Innovation Centers may be celebrated alongside Hedy Lamarr, Stephanie Kwolek and other technology pioneers.