Women’s History Month
The month of March brings about Women’s History month. The origins lie in a presidential proclamation in 1981 establishing Women’s history week as the week of March 7th.
By 1987, the week recognizing the role of women in the United States had expanded to an entire month.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was one of the first women to earn a doctoral degree in mathematics. Her skill in the field of math led her to the Naval Reserves and during World War II she began work on some of the first computer programs. She became one of the first computer programmers and developed the operation manual for the Mark I computer.
Grace Hopper worked on top secret projects such as rocket trajectories and calibrations of mine sweep technology. After the war, Hopper worked with other researchers at Harvard. She was the first to use the term “bug” in reference to computer issues and “debugging” in repairing such issues. She eventually worked on UNIVAC and developed the first English based computer language, Flow Matic. Later, Hopper was instrumental in the acceptance of COBOL as a language used by both the military and civilian sector. By 1970, COBOL was the most extensively used computer language.
Grace Hopper retired from the US Navy at the age of 79 and was the oldest serving officer in the United States Armed Forces. She received more than 40 honorary degrees. She was awarded the National Medal of Technology. In 1996, the US Navy commissioned the USS Hopper in her honor. In 2016 she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian – American actress with a brilliant mind. She pioneered the technology that would lead the basis of modern wireless communication.
Initially, Hedy Lamarr’s mind was largely ignored. She was a star of the big screen and often referred to as “the Most Beautiful Woman in Film” . Lamarr once said that “ Improving things comes naturally to me,” and she developed an upgraded stoplight as well as a tablet that dissolved in water to create a drink similar to Coca – Cola. In the 1940’s, Lamarr met George Antheil and together they began to think through a method to combat the Axis powers. Eventually, they developed “frequency hopping” and were awarded a patent in 1942.
While the patent expired before she every received a penny from it, Lamarr’s role in technology has been recognized in the last few decades. In 1997, Lamarr was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award. She was the first woman to receive the Invention Convention’s Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award. She was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame has been called the “Mother of Wifi” and other wireless communication such as GPS and Bluetooth.