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Glass Ceilings: Five Famous Women in Engineering - Brooke Chaplan

In modern Western culture, any girl can grow up to fulfil her dream of becoming an engineer. Thousands of universities offer degrees in any engineering specialty a girl could want, from mechanical to electrical. Even online schools are getting in on this lucrative degree by offering masters in engineering management online and through distance classes. Historically, though, women have been kept out of the sciences. Those who managed to get past the obstacles have been ignored by history. Here are 5 exceptions, historical women who shattered the glass ceiling to become famous engineers.

Mary Anderson (1866-1953)

Glass Ceilings Five Famous Women in Engineering 1- Mary Anderson

Mary has prevented countless traffic accidents by first inventing the windshield wiper in 1903, after seeing a man leave his front window open so he could reach forward and clear sleet off the windshield with his hand. After her patent expired, the windshield wiper was integrated into the designs of automobile manufacturers all over the world.

Caroline Haslett (1895-1957)

Glass Ceilings Five Famous Women in Engineering 2 - Caroline Haslett

Caroline started out as a secretary, but during WWI got basic engineering training in London and went on to become the first secretary of the Women's Engineering Society. In 1941, she became the society's president. She was especially interested in electricity, which in that time was not yet fully integrated into English homes.

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (Born 1923)

Glass Ceilings Five Famous Women in Engineering 3 - Stephanie Louise Kwolek

Stephanie discovered liquid crystalline polymers, the substance used to make Kevlar. Her work has saved countless military and police lives by making it possible to produce this bulletproof material. She has received the National Medal of Technology and the Perkin Medal, and has been named to the National Women's Hall of Fame.


Beulah Louise Henry (1887-1973)

Glass Ceilings Five Famous Women in Engineering 4 - Beulah Louise Henry

Beulah was known as "The Lady Edison" for her inventions. Some of the most interesting are a doll with a radio inside, a vacuum ice cream freezer, and a typewriter that made multiple copies without needing to use carbon paper. Beulah wound up making a huge fortune by manufacturing her inventions through different companies.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

Glass Ceilings Five Famous Women in Engineering 5 - Hedy Lamarr

Hedy's rise to worldwide flame occurred through film. In 1933, she appeared in the German film Ecstasy. She then moved to America and starred in several more films before fading from the scene. But what was not well-known, was her work as a scientist. In fact, Hedy invented the frequency-hopping technology that makes modern mobile communications, Bluetooth, and WiFi possible. It's thanks to her that people can now access the internet from anywhere in the world.

These women defeated incredible odds to become leaders in their engineering fields. Every one of them has defied the repressive structure of institutional sexism to do what they loved. Not only that, but they did it better than most men. Here's to you, ladies!

Article contributed by Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer based in Los Lunas, New Mexico.