Update privacy choices

Women in Science: This year, let's thank those whose inventions made our lives better

India Today

The Indian Railways and Air India are deploying an all-woman crew on various trains and flights, the corporates are busy organising a little something for their female employees and social media is filled with ads and campaigns asking you to cherish the existence of feminine power.

While we celebrate the young and old who are transforming our present and future, let's not forget those women who with their intelligence and hard work made our lives easier.

Here are five women of science whose inventions we can't do without:

  • Spread Spectrum Technology

This invention tops the list, undoubtedly because if it weren't for this there would have been no WiFi.

Hedy Lamarr, an Austrian-American actress and inventor, was described as the "most beautiful woman in the world". Sadly, she is more known for her beauty than her inventions.

Lamarr, who got interested in science after her first marriage, came up with an ideal called the 'Secret Communication System'. This was to solve the problem of enemies blocking signals from radio-controlled-missiles.

Hedy Lamarr along with composer George Antheil developed a technology to prevent German submarines from jamming Allied radio signals, called "frequency hopping". Lamarr wanted to make both the transmitter and the receiver simultaneously jump from frequency to frequency, so that when someone tries to jam the signal, they would not know where it was.

However, the navy failed to implement it initially.

The techonology that Lamarr developed is used for GPS, Bluetooth, COFDM and CDMA- used in WiFi connections and mobile phones respectively.

So, millennials you now know who to thank.

  • Gas heating furnace

Those living in extremely cold weather understand its importance. Alice Parker, an African American woman, invented the gas heating furnace in 1919.

Her invention of a heating furnace ensured people didn't have to gather woods for fireplace to keep themselves warm. People could now keep themselves warm and even regulate the temperature.


It is a high level English-like computer programming language which is still in use. Grace Hopper, American computer scientist, created one of the first compiler related tools.

Grace Hopper believed that a programming language that was based on English words could also help in writing computer codes. The compiler would convert that code into machine code that would be understood by computers.

By developing these worded instructions, she sure made things easy for her next generation scientists.

  • CCTV security system

Marie Van Brittan Brown, an African-American inventor, is responsible for making our homes and offices more secure. At least that was the her reason behind inventing this system, little did she know that in the far future her invention would be used by states and governments for mass surveillance.

In the mid-1960s, Marie Van used cameras and TV to create a system that had a set of four peep-holes and a camera that could slide up and down to look at each other. Whatever was recorded on camera was visible on the monitor as we now witness.

According to Wikipedia, the system included a device that enabled a homeowner to use a television set to view the person at the door and hear the caller's voice.

Marie was awarded by the National Science Committee for her invention.

  • The medical syringe

In 1899, Letitia Mumford Geer invented the one-hand operated medical syringe. Her invention was granted patent in the very year of its invention.

An one-hand syringe consisted of a cylinder with a nozzle and piston for injecting or withdrawing fluids. It could be operated using one hand as it can be held between the fingers.

Apparently, even mordern syringers are inspired from Letitia's age-old idea.


What to read next