Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898-1979) invented coatings for glass that made it anti-reflective, coined "invisible glass." She was the first woman to be awarded a PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge in 1926.
Katharine held eight patents as a scientist who contributed to breakthroughs in cinematography, plasma physics, deicing aircraft wings, poison gas adsorbents and improvements to the light bulb.
Here are three women who have some things in common. What do you think they are?
Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014) created the unusually lightweight and durable new fiber that DuPont later developed into Kevlar, used in everything from military helmets to sports equipment to fiber-optic cables. She worked for DuPont for 40 years.
She was the only woman to be awarded DuPont's Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement. DuPont has made billions in revenue from Stephanie's work, yet she never benefitted directly. After she retired she worked specifically to introduce girls to scientific fields, and tutored in chemistry.
I don't know her well, but Mary Lou Jepsen (1965-) is one of my favorite people. An explorer, entrepreneur, pioneer and moonshot dreamer, I first found out about Mary Lou through my friend Edward Cherlin, who was working with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, developing educational resources for children. He told me about the laptop's screen, which could switch from full color to daylight-readable black-and-white. I said "What?"
Mary Lou was a co-founder of that project with Nicholas Negroponte and the lead inventor of the "$100 Laptop." The OLPC project is so valuable to teach how powerful constraints are for truly breakthrough product design.
Mary Lou Jepsen — one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the World — is a very long way from being done. Her work in optics, computers, screen technologies, VR, AR, wearables and now medical visualization wearables is astonishing. I can't wait to see what she does next, and is one of my favorite people to follow. Watch her TED Talk here.