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Three Female Inventors to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

Shyla Harton (MSW '22)
March 8, 2022

Throughout history, women have contributed a multitude of innovations, helping us become the industrial world we are today. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to recognize three women who have contributed to world-changing innovations.

Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was a second-generation Polish American. Her father passed when she was young but shared a passion for science with his daughter, which she carried on throughout her life. Stephanie obtained a degree in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and served as a chemist for DuPont in New York for nine years.

Stephanie fell upon her innovation when wanting to use lightweight plastic in tires. This lightweight plastic is Kevlar. Not only is Kevlar lightweight, but it’s also strong enough to stop a steel bullet. Kevlar is mainly known as the material used for a bulletproof vest. Stephanie received plenty of awards, including the Perkin Medal, the highest honor in American industrial chemistry.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

Detail of Marie Van Brittan Brown’s home security system design
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Marie Brown is an African American woman born and raised in Queens, New York. Marie and her husband, Albert, worked uncommon hours and feared burglaries and home invasions in their crime-ridden Queens neighborhood. Marie designed a home security system that involved multiple peepholes, wireless cameras connected to a TV monitor, a 2-way communicator, and a panic button that alerted police immediately.

Brown filed for a patent in 1966 and was approved in 1969. Brown’s invention is the base model for many modern surveillance systems used in current homes, condos, apartments, and businesses. Marie later received an award from the National Science Committee for the home surveillance system. Mari also was credited for the first closed-circuit television.

Marta Karczewicz

Last but certainly not least, I want to dedicate a paragraph for Marta Karczewicz. Marta is responsible for inventing techniques that compress raw video footage, so consumers can share it across multiple outlets without losing the quality. From the million subscriptions on Netflix streaming app, several businesses setting up Zoom meetings, or your grandmother using iPhone for a Facetime call, Marta’s invention is responsible for it all.

The way we experience video streaming was not created by just one invention. Marta has led several breakthrough inventions and holds over 500 patents for her life-changing inventions. As video streaming continues to expand into different categories, Marta and her team of 30 continue to work and improve the video experience for the consumer.

Although we only mentioned three, plenty of women dedicated their lives to solving a problem through innovation and entrepreneurship. Women have created impactful inventions such as car heaters (Margaret A. Wilcox) and menstrual products such as pads (Mary Beatrice Davidson). Let’s honor them and continue to encourage our women and girls to chase their wildest dreams and add on to the list of innovative women.