This Friday, June 23rd, is International Women in Engineering Day, a day that “focuses attention on the amazing careers in engineering and technical roles for girls, and allows us to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding women engineers.”
To celebrate, we’ve compiled a timeline of powerful and influential female engineers and designers who dismantled and continue to dismantle the harmful assumption that engineering is an industry reserved for men.
1859: Martha Coston, an American inventor and businesswoman, is granted a patent for the “Coston flare,” a signaling device for ships at sea. Coston engineered the flares using her late husband’s unfinished plans for the device.
1916: Margaret Ingels becomes the first woman to receive a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Ingels went on to perfect air conditioning.
1942: Hedy Lamarr invents a remote-controlled communications system for the U.S. military during World War II. According to Ivey Engineering Inc., her invention is still used today in devices like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modems.
1992: Dr. Mae Jemison becomes the first African American women to journey into space. Jemison was attending graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when she was selected for the NASA space program.
2003: Cynthia Braezeal, creator of Kismet, the expressive “humanoid robot” capable of social exchange between human and machine, is named one of the top 100 innovators in the world under 35 by the MIT Technology Review.
2017: Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft, is named number one Most Powerful Female Engineer of 2017 by Business Insider. According to Business Insider, Johnson, an electrical engineer, helped Microsoft establish an artificial intelligence center in Montreal.