Who run the world? Girls. You know it, I know it, Beyonce knows it, and Marie Curie definitely knew it, too. In fact, in 1903, thanks to her groundbreaking work in radioactivity, she became the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize, then subsequently the first person to win twice and only person to win in multiple sciences, thereby cementing her reputation as one of the most ridiculously boss scientists and women to ever walk the planet. Curie’s birthday on November 7th serves as a reminder for not only her many contributions, but the innumerable ideas, creations, and discoveries attributed to great women who came both before and after. So happy 147th birthday, Madame Curie—in your honor, we will now praise badass women.
Although the tech world has, in recent memory, often been seen as one high-fiving, muscle-flexing boys club, few people know that the OG of computer programmers was actually a woman. The forsaken daughter of prominent English poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace chose mathematics as her field of expertise rather than Don Juan-ing her way to success. She is best known for her work with Cambridge professor Charles Babbage who invented of the Analytical Engine, the world’s first general purpose computer. Being the intellectual rockstar that she was, Ada’s notes on the design included ways to program the machine using mathematical algorithms and predicted that computers of the future would be able to do things like, I don’t know, say, type this blog post or shop for rad tomboy clothes. (BTW – thanks, girl!)
Ever wonder where she get her eyes from? How about where she get her thighs from? Well, in the words of prolific poet Juvenile: “She get it from her mama.” While probably true, Juvenile would not have been able to make to this scientific deduction without the work of Rosalind Franklin whose understanding of DNA and it’s structure has informed our entire knowledge of genetic information and how it passes from parent to child. Controversially, Rosalind’s work in this area is often overshadowed by her contemporaries James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their model of the molecule.
Hedy Lamarr’s life reads less like your stereotypical lab-bound inventor and, fittingly, more like the plot of Hollywood’s latest historical thriller: It’s the early 1940s and gorgeous screen siren Hedy Lamarr has taken a break from acting opposite the likes of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy to develop a secret communications system intended to combat the Nazis… Seriously, you can’t make this sh*t up. By manipulating radio frequencies, Hedy and composer George Antheil determined a way to control torpedos using frequency hopping technology—an invention that laid the groundwork for all the wireless technology we rely on today, from cell phones to WiFi to GPS.
Say sayonara to nylon, bid adieu to polyester, and definitely forget spandex—there’s a new Sheriff in town and her name is Kevlar. The ultimate badass of of synthetic fibers, Kevlar is 5 times stronger than steel, resistant to heat, and largely indestructible. Invented by chemist Stephanie Kwolek in 1971, Kevlar has revolutionized personal armor as the main component in ballistic face masks, combat helmets, and bulletproof vests. Let’s be honest, there are probably few women in history who are single handedly responsible for saving as many lives as Stephanie Kwolek—Superman ain’t got nothin’ on Kevlar-girl, AMIRITE?
Before global warming became the proverbial monster under the bed, before the conscientious masses began driving Prii (plural for Prius—I kid you not, google it), screwing in LED bulbs, and recycling within an inch of their lives, biophysicist Maria Telkes was decades ahead of the game with her invention of the world’s first solar powered home. Together with architect Eleanor Raymond, Maria built the Carlisle Solar House which stayed heated throughout the very, very cold Dover, Massachusetts winters using no supplementary power source and earning her the nickname of The Sun Queen (which is perhaps the coolest epithet of all time and totally making me rethink my current profession).
The Women of Mesopotamia & Sumeria
While beer is primarily marketed to men these days, historians have confirmed what us tomboys already knew—beer is for babes! Evidence dating back to the very dawn of civilization shows that Mesopotamian women were the first to brew, drink, and sell beer. In fact, brewing was the only profession to have the protection of Sumerian female deities including Ninkasi, the goddess of beer-making, Siris, the patron goddess of beer, and Siduri, the goddess of consuming said beer.
On that note, we say: bottoms up and cheers to the mothers of invention!