Metals & Manufacturing Outlook, along with Manufacturing Talk Radio, Women And Manufacturing, and everyone at the Manufacturing Broadcasting Corporation has focused on women in business since before the launch of the podcast, Women And Manufacturing (WAM).
It becomes more apparent with each passing day that women are under-represented in business and industry, yet provide an excellent solution to the burgeoning Skills Gap that is expanding across the manufacturing universe. Gender is no longer any more or less relevant in manufacturing or business than race, religion, or ethnicity, although it clearly created a glass ceiling for females up through and even into the 21st Century. However, like the Berlin Wall, erected to keep a population within, gender barriers are falling and the glass ceiling is cracking – and, it’s way past due.
In recognition of the impact of women in all roles of society is International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019 with the theme #BalanceforBetter: better the balance, better the world. March is also Women’s History Month, and there are thousands of untold stories about the accomplishments of women across the entire spectrum of business and industry. Here are just a few:
- Mary Dixon Kies was the first woman to receive a U.S. patent in 1809 for a process to weave straw with silk. Unfortunately the patent was destroyed in the great Patent Office fire in 1836. Until 1840, only 20 other patents were issued to women.
- Screen actress Hedy Lamarr was the co-inventor of a spread spectrum secret communications system used to prevent classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel, a technology that was the precursor for cell phones.
- Margaret Knight was born in Maine in 1838 and received 26 patents during her lifetime, including one for the flat bottom paper bag used in grocery stores and retail outlets to this day.
- Julie Newmar, known for her role as Catwoman and other roles in Hollywood and television, patented ultra-sheer, ultra-snug pantyhose.
- Katherine Blodgett was the first female scientist hired by General Electric’s Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York, working on monomolecular coatings and thin film coatings that resulted in the world’s first 100% transparent or invisible glass. Thin film coatings and the process for applying them have been used to limit distortion in eyeglasses, microscopes, telescopes, camera lenses and many other applications.
- Grace Hopper developed a common language with which computers could communicate, called COBOL. It was never patented because it pre-dated a time when computer software technology was even considered a ‘patentable’ field.
- Stephanie Louise Kwolek’s research in high-performance chemical compounds for DuPont led to her patent of Kevlar, now used in bulletproof vests, underwater cables, brake linings, space vehicles, boats, parachutes, skis and building materials.
- Valerie Thomas received a patent in 1980 for inventing an illusion transmitter (think Star Trek hollow deck) for projecting 3D images as though they are right in front of you.
History is overflowing with examples of the contributions of women, some well known and many, many others largely unsung. Now, in the 21st Century, the world has the unlimited potential and possibilities to add the uniqueness of the female mind to the development of humans on Earth, from their very creation to contributing their lives and lifestyles each and every day.
We encourage our readers to research the contributions of women and add this incredible talent pool at all levels within every organization with sincere, rapid and intense conviction.
Tim Grady is Editor-in-Chief of Metals & Manufacturing Outlook ezine, co-host of Manufacturing Talk Radio, an Executive Producer at the Manufacturing Broadcasting Corporation.