7 Famous Female Inventors You Need to Know

As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations at Extreme Networks, our Women’s Leadership Council employee resource group is shining a spotlight on female inventors and technologists that have made an impact on society. It’s been a great exercise and many of us have learned something new about women’s history.

For example, did you know that a woman was on the team of computer scientists that made the Apollo moon landing possible? Or that a famous Hollywood actress pioneered the technology that made Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS a possibility? Do you know how much influence women have had on the creation and adoption of computer programming languages? What about the influence women have on the technology we use to communicate with each other every day?

Below are a few more facts about each of these amazing inventors and their contributions to society!

1. Grace Hopper

grace hopper headshotGrace Hopper is known for her contributions to the development and adoption of computer languages. A Yale University graduate with both a master’s and Ph.D. in mathematics, she became a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. She is best known for her work on COBOL (common business-oriented language), a computer language written in English instead of a mathematic notation. Hopper was honored with multiple awards, including The Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award, National Medal of Technology, National Women’s Hall of Fame induction, and the Hopper College at Yale University is named after her.

To learn more about Grace Hopper’s contributions to the world of technology, click here.

2. Mary Kenneth Keller

mary kenneth kellerMary Kenneth Keller was the first woman to ever receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science in the United States and the first female to work in the Dartmouth College Computer Center. She is known for her work on the team that developed the BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language, which transformed the world of computer science. An advocate for the involvement of women in the field of computer science, she established the computer science department at Clarke College and educated students there for nearly 20 years.

To learn more about the impact Mary Kenneth Keller had on technology, click here.

3. Hedy Lamarr

hedy lamarr headshotHedy Lamarr one of the most beautiful women in film was also a technology pioneer. Over her career, she appeared in 30 different films and aided in the development of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RF technologies, and GPS systems. She co-invented Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) which was used in legacy Wi-Fi devices and still used in Bluetooth devices and other radio transmitters. In addition to receiving the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award, Hedy was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

To learn more about Hedy’s accomplishments both on and behind the camera, click here.

4. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

shirley ann jackson headshotDr. Shirley Ann Jackson is the eighteenth president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Jackson worked in the Theoretical Physics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories where she focused on condensed matter physics, especially layered systems, and the physics of opto-electronic materials. She was appointed Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by President Clinton in 1995.

To learn more about Dr. Shirley Jackson’s contributions to the technology industry click here.

5. Dr. Erna Hoover

erna hoover headshotDr. Erna Hoover, a groundbreaker in the telecommunications field, earned her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. from Yale University. She worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories, where she invented the computerized telephone switching system. The system revolutionized modern communication by preventing overloads by monitoring call center traffic and prioritizing tasks. She was one of the first women in the U.S. to receive a software patent for her invention. She was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008.

To learn more about the impact Dr. Erna Hoover had on telecommunications, click here.

6. Margaret Hamilton

margaret hamilton headshotMargaret Hamilton was among the team of computer scientists that developed the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo program. Hamilton’s work was focused on the software used to detect system errors and to recover information in a computer crash, both of which were crucial during the Apollo 11 mission. She is credited with coining the term “software engineering.”

To learn more about Margaret Hamilton and her impact on computer science, click here.

7. Radia Perlman

radia perlman headshotRadia Perlman is a computer programmer and network engineer, most known for her 1985 invention of the spanning tree protocol (STP) - which was revolutionary to the operation of network bridges at the time. She later designed Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) to build on STP. She holds more than 100 patents and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Internet Hall of Fame.

To read more about her innovative designs and impact on technology, click here.

These seven inventors were pioneers who made a lasting impact on technology.

Here at Extreme, we encourage all employees to pursue their passions. Our employee resource groups, including the Women’s Leadership Council, are created and managed by our employees. These groups are for those interested in advancing the future, creating an inclusive workplace environment, and developing opportunities for others.

To learn more about our Women’s Leadership Council and our other ERGs, please visit Extreme's CSR Page.

This blog was originally authored by Sarah Nesland, Head of Enterprise Sales.

About the Author
Lisa Yeaton
Manager, Social Media

Lisa Yeaton is a Social Media Manager at Extreme Networks. In her role, Lisa oversees all of Extreme's corporate social media accounts and creates corporate communications content.

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