This is the seventh in a series about Famous Women in STEM History. The goal of these articles is to encourage young women and girls to pursue a career in the STEM fields. I hope you share these stories so that others will hear the accomplishments of these women and be thus inspired to also find success in a STEM field.
Though better known during her lifetime as a leading actress of the silver screen, Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) was also an early pioneer of wireless communications. Dubbed by MGM as “the Most Beautiful Woman in Hollywood”, Hedy would indeed entertain millions with her stunning beauty, but it was her passion for science and her love of inventing that take would define her lasting impact of our modern wireless connected lives still today.
In the documentary of her life, “Bombshell”, Lamarr discusses her love of science, her failed experiments (effervescent cola tablets) and her successes, including streamlining her lover Howard Hughes’s racing airplane. “I don’t have to work on ideas,” she says. “They come naturally.” Her greatest invention came during World War II and was used by the United States Navy. Her “secret communication system” used “frequency hopping” to guide radio-controlled missiles underwater in a way that was undetectable by the enemy. Originally designed to defeat the German Nazis, the system became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones. Though awarded a patent in 1941 for invention, Lamarr and her invention was not widely regarded at the time as the Navy’s use of the technology was classified. It wasn’t until many decades later, when cellular technology became a viable means of communication were her skills in science recognized. A recognition way overdue considering the direct impact her invention had on winning WWII and its impact on our modern lives.
Source: Biography.com and The Guardian
Sheri Yarbray is a CEO, the founder of Your Therapy Source LLC a home healthcare staffing company, a STEM entrepreneur, and proud mom. Sheri is passionate about delivering high quality home healthcare to patients, inspiring young women to move into STEM careers, and sharing ideas about managing a balance between a work and a home life. You can follow Sheri on LinkedIn @Sheri Yarbray
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