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How Hedy Lamarr Paved The Way

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SJSU chapter.

Women’s History Month is an important designated time to reflect on what we know about history and how many important people are erased from it. 

Unfortunately, we see a disappointing pattern in how society has treated successful women. 

As an upcoming electrical engineer, I want to be mindful of the women who paved the way for me in the electrical engineering field. It’s no secret that there is a lack of women in STEM. According to the Society of Women Engineers’ research, women only make up 13% of all engineers and on average earn 10% less than their male colleagues. 

Beyond just encouraging young women to pursue these careers, we also need to start recognizing the empowered women who were at the forefront of this fight. 

The biggest challenge of trying to be a career woman is fighting the misconception that femininity and intellectual success are mutually exclusive. We know very well that is not true, and Hedy Lamarr was a prime example of this.  

Born in Austria in 1914, Hedy Lamarr grew up to be one of the most famous women in film and television (both in Europe and America). 

Beyond just her beautiful presence on the screen, the world got to experience her intelligence as well. 

The National Women’s History Museum says that while living in America during World War II, Hedy met a man named George Antheil. The two went on to create a form of communication via a groundbreaking method of frequency hopping, where radio waves could travel and remain uninterrupted. 

Lamarr and Antheil earned a patent for their discovery and wanted to help the American military in their use of radios amidst the war. 

Despite earning a U.S patent, Lamarr did not receive financial compensation and social recognition for her work on this discovery until many years later. It was her work on this innovation that led later engineers to create wireless communications such as WiFi, GPS and bluetooth. 

This means that every day that we turn on our phone and computers, we benefit from her work. 

When you research Hedy Lamarr, the first few layers of her history portray her as a beauty queen in film. If you keep digging, you’ll find the list of her intellectual accomplishments and discoveries. 

It’s important to remember that one of these successes does not take away from another or outshine the other. 

Lamarr paved the way for women who felt comfortable in their femininity and in their intelligence and proved to us they are in fact NOT mutually exclusive. 

She rocked two titles: “the most beautiful woman in the world” and “the mother of WiFi,” . She should forever be remembered for both of those things. 

How have the women in your field inspired you? Let us know @HerCampusSJSU

A college student trying to expand my writing experiences :) Major: Electrical Engineering Instagram: @deena.sada