10 February, 2021
To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we have decided to celebrate 5 historically influential women in engineering and science.
Discovered Kevlar, 1965
It wouldn’t be right for us to not mention Stephanie Kwolek, who discovered the bulletproof fibre Kevlar by accident in the 1960s, whilst researching lightweight but strong materials for use in car tires. Kwolek was working as a chemist at DuPont factory in Delaware, where she carried out extensive research on polymers. Kevlar was five-times stronger than steel in weight, and is now used for bulletproof vests and knife-proof body armours.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Invented Home Security System, 1965
Continuing the security theme, Marie Van Brittan Brown was the creator of the first home security system. Living in New York in 1965, where NYC Police Department were notoriously slow to respond to calls in her neighbourhood, Brown took matters into her own hands, and created the system with closed-circuit television.
Wrote the world’s first computer algorithm, 1843
Ada Lovelace translated notes of the mathematics professor Charles Babbage for his theoretical invention the analytical engine. Whilst doing this Lovelace added her own notes, tripling the original text, and is credited with writing the world’s first computer algorithm.
Invented Fire Escapes, 1887
Fires in multi-occupant buildings were much more dangerous before Connelly invented the very first fire escape: an external metal staircase. Not only has this invention saved countless lives, it also introduced one of the first New York City building codes, which required residential buildings to have a secondary means of escape for emergencies.
Invented Medical Syringe, 1899
The one-handed medical syringe we know today, was invented by Letitia Geer in 1899. Before this medical professionals had been using syringes that required both hands to administer injections.
It is also important to recognise that the theme of this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the critical role of women researchers in different stages of the fight against COVID-19, from advancing the knowledge on the virus to developing technics for testing and finally the vaccine against the virus.
We would like to thank all those contributing to the global efforts to understand and eradicate the effects of COVID-19.