To celebrate International Women In Engineering Day, we at Team QuestFriendz wanted to share our top five female engineering heroes – some of whom you may not have heard of before but are nonetheless worthy of a mention for their incredible contributions to the world of engineering. We hope you enjoy learning about these STEM sensations!
One of the better-known engineering heroes, Ada Lovelace was basically the very first computer programmer, more than 100 years before the invention of the computer. This was a huge milestone in the history of computers, as she went on to develop a way for computers to go beyond simply calculating numbers. It is believed that the combination of both her creative mind and her mathematical knowledge resulted in her great success. Pretty impressive, right?!
Edith Clarke has numerous “first female” badges to wear honourably, but the one she is most famous for is being the very first female engineer and the inventor of the Clarke calculator, used to graph out electrical properties. Up until this point, people were solving calculations manually, so her invention saved them a lot of time and effort!
Clarke was also the first female to graduate with a master’s in electrical engineering from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and much later, at the age of 64, the first female professor of electrical engineering in America. Despite facing a lot of struggles in the engineering world on account of being a woman, Edith never gave up – a true engineering hero!
Credits Image ©Genevieve Womack
A QuestFriendz favourite, Hedy Lamarr was both an incredible actress and a brilliant female inventor, proving that women can turn their hand to anything. When she wasn’t busy playing the part of a femme fatale besides Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, she devised a method of encrypting signals to prevent enemy spies from listening to sensitive pieces of information, the underlying method of how we use WiFi today. Without her, there would be no wireless communication in our modern world. In fact, her invention was so important that in 1997 she was recognized with an award from the North American government and is today considered the “mother of the cell phone.”
©Portrait character design of Hedy Lamarr from the classic film "Ziegfeld Girl"
Emily Warren Roebling
Emily Warren Roebling is one of the most famous female engineers of her time despite receiving no formal education. Her husband, Washington Roebling, was the son of John Roebling – the engineer responsible for designing the Brooklyn Bridge. After John suddenly died, Washington was appointed chief engineer and Emily took a huge interest in the project. When Washington sadly became ill, Emily cared for him and dedicated herself to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the largest engineering projects in American history. She was also the first woman to head the American Society of Civil Engineers. Hats off to Emily, we say!
Credits Image ©Rosie Riveters, Brittany Greer & Casey Huerta
You may recognise the name Mary Jackson from the 2016 film Hidden Figures which celebrates Jackson’s ground-breaking contributions to NASA, where she became the first Black female engineer. She was one of a small group of African American women who worked as aeronautical engineers, called “human computers” at NASA during the Space Age. Along with serving a vital role in the development of the space program, she helped other women and minorities advance their careers, advising them to study and take extra courses to increase their chances for promotion.
In June 2020, NASA renamed its DC Headquarters to The Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters to honour her trailblazing achievements.
Credits Image © Tracie Ching
We hope you enjoyed reading about these five female engineering heroes. Our personal goal at QuestFriendz is to show every young child that STEM is for them regardless of gender, ethnicity and abilities. Through our interactive stories, educational resources and free STEM activities we aim to help equip the future leaders of tomorrow, resulting in more engineering heroes like these five remarkable women. If you’d like to try out some of our fun STEM quests, just click here and let the fun begin!