Friday

Going into March

First – an announcement. I haven’t posted in a while. So, to make up for it, for the entire month of March, I will be posting two blog posts for every Friday. It’s the least I can do.

Secondly – March is also Women’s History Month. In honor of that fact, I shall be compiling a list of the most awesome women you’ve never heard of. I’ll try to make most of my posts biographies, but we’ll see how that turns out. At any rate, here is a sample of the kinds of women who lived lives I want to explore. Some of them I might give more in-depth biographies on at a later date, but for now, here’s the skinny on amazing women who don’t get the credit they deserve.

Hedy Lamarr

This girl. This. Girl. Wow. She ran away from her husband in Austria to Paris, where she was offered a Hollywood contract. She then moved to the United States, changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, and became a successful movie star, being called “the most beautiful woman in film”. But as if that wasn’t enough, she patented a radio guidance system for U.S. torpedoes during WWII. Her system used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology, which are vital for WiFi and Bluetooth. In 2014, she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

More on Hedy Lamarr:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr

http://www.hedylamarr.com/about/biography.html

http://www.biography.com/people/hedy-lamarr-9542252#synopsis

http://www.women-inventors.com/Hedy-Lammar.asp

Grace Hopper

If I can even come close to kind of fitting in Grace Hopper’s shoes before I die, I will have lived my life well. Sometimes called “Amazing Grace”, Hopper was attended Yale University and earned a PhD in math in 1934 – a year when a woman earning a PhD in anything was a massive accomplishment. Hopper went to work for the navy, where she was incredibly successful. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer (and II, and III), and laid the foundations for the COBOL computer language. She popularized the term “bug” in terms of programming too. One of her greatest feats was inventing the first compiler for a computer, though I like to point out that she became a rear admiral in the navy and retired as the oldest officer in the service at the time. She was also the first female recipient of the National Medal of Technology in 1991 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And as if that weren’t enough, she has a guided-missile destroyer AND a supercomputer named after her.

More about Grace Hopper:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper

http://www.biography.com/people/grace-hopper-21406809#career-in-computing

http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/Files/hopper-story.html

Gertrude Bell

“Miss Bell” lived her life like it was the adventure of a lifetime, which, to be fair, it kind of was. She was a wonderful student, attending Oxford University, where she became the first woman to win a first-class degree in modern history. She later wrote “Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia”, the first white paper written by a woman. Other prizes on her resume include: teaching herself Persian and Arabic, teaching herself archaeology, becoming a famed mountaineer, and traveling the world – twice. Oh, and she also drew the borders of Iraq and founded the Baghdad Archaeological Museum. So she’s awesome. Seriously, look her up.

More about Gertrude Bell:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/12/iraq.jamesbuchan

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/12/iraq.jamesbuchan

http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-bell-21149695

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Bell

Nana Asma’u

Nana Asma’u was a princess of a Muslim caliphate in what is now Nigeria. Her father believed that women should be educated as well as men, and ensured that his daughter received the teaching she deserved. Nana became fluent in 4 different languages and dedicated the entire Koran to memory. On top of that, she became a leading poet, penning over 60 works of poetry still admired today, gaining a reputation as an honored scholar, which was impressive considering the status of women when she lived. She fiercely believed that everyone deserved an education, regardless of their gender, and created a network of educated women to teach other females across the land. As she grew older, she outlived most of the founding members of her family, becoming a revered adviser in her brother’s court. You go, Nana.

More about Nana Asma’u:

http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/p/214.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nana_Asma%E2%80%99u

http://www.muslimheritage.com/article/ode-to-nana-asmau

 

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