Inventors

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Hedy Lamarr

Discussion Guide for Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

by Larisa Klebe

The film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, which premiered in theaters last November, explores the unusual and tumultuous life of Hedy Lamarr—a Jewish and Austrian-born Hollywood actress considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio Pipetting DNA into a Gel

To Girls Taking Their First STEM Classes

by Caroline Kubzansky and Maya Jodidio
If you’re a female-identifying teen and you attend high school, chances are good that you take, or will take, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) class. Physics, biology, and chemistry are the usual suspects. We’re writing to share some collective wisdom with you from our own high-school experience.

Janet Lieberman

With her mastery of 3D printing, Janet Lieberman helped create the first successful hands-free couples’ vibrator in 2014.

Alexandra Fine

Using crowdfunding and cutting-edge technology, Alexandra Fine helped create the first successful hands-free couples’ vibrator in 2014 to overcome the difficulties women face in achieving orgasm during sex.

Hertha Ayrton

The first woman proposed for membership in the Royal Society, Hertha Ayrton created inventions from tools architects used for enlarging and reducing drawings to fans that could clear poison gas from mine shafts.

Ruth Arnon

Immunologist Ruth Arnon and her long-time collaborator Michael Sela made unprecedented breakthroughs when they developed the first synthetic antigen and the first drug approved for treating multiple sclerosis, Copaxone.

Judith Graham Pool

Physiologist Judith Graham Pool revolutionized the treatment of hemophilia by isolating factor VIII and creating a concentrate made from blood plasma that could be frozen, stored, and used by hemophiliacs in their own homes.

Virginia Morris Pollak

Virginia Morris Pollak’s artistic career and her longtime community service collided in WWII when she used her deep understanding of clay, plaster, and metal to revolutionize reconstructive surgery for wounded servicemen.

Gertrude Elion / Nina Fefferman

Scientists

Leaders in the Lab

Hedy Lamarr / Mayim Bialik

Actress-Scientists

Stars of STEM and Screen

Actress Hedy Lamarr patents the basis for WiFi

August 11, 1942

“All creative people want to do the unexpected.” — Actress Hedy Lamarr

Frances Slanger

One of four nurses to wade ashore at Normandy Beach on D-Day, Frances Slanger was the only nurse to die as a result of enemy action in the European Theater.

Ruth Mosko Handler

Ruth Mosko Handler is best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, but her most important work may be her prosthetics for survivors of breast cancer.
Irene Greif

Living by Their Own Codes

by Sarah Weinberg

Women who make history rarely feel the need to adhere to others' narratives—and that goes double for Jewish women.  So it's not surprising that when Radia Perlman, architect of many of the routing and bridging protocols that make the modern Internet possible, discusses her childhood, she casually disposes of the standard geek-culture heroic origin story: "I did not fit the stereotype of the 'engineer.' I never took things apart or built a computer out of spare parts."  Irene Greif, a fellow computer scientist who brought ethnographers, anthropologists and sociologists into systems design through her field of computer-supported cooperative work, cheerfully admits: "I have a whole history of always choosing marginal roles and in marginal subjects of research and so on for myself."  Her work, though, has turned out to be anything but marginal. 

Mollie Orshansky, 1915 - 2006

Mollie was very smart, independent, and a hardworking government employee. She was called 'Miss Poverty' because she developed the poverty index widely used by the Federal government as a basis for benefit programs involving low income individuals and families.

Florence Melton, 1911 - 2007

It was her conviction that others shared her desire to be a knowledgeable Jew, and her dream was to create the way to provide that knowledge.

Florence Zacks Melton

Philanthropist and visionary innovator, a lay leader for over fifty years, Florence Zacks Melton has helped build institutions that have improved the quality and broadened the scope of Jewish education throughout North America.

Ruth Mosko Handler

Best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, Ruth Mosko Handler combined her marketing genius with her husband Elliot Handler’s creative designs to form the toy company Mattel, Inc. Starting in their garage in 1939, the Handlers produced Lucite gifts, wooden picture frames, and dollhouse furniture before developing their first toy, the Uke-A-Doodle, in 1947. The success of the Uke-A-Doodle was followed by a series of rubber-belt-driven musical toys, including the Jack-in-the-Box, as well as toy guns such as a Winchester rifle replica. Yet it was the Barbie doll, created in 1959, that “ran off the counter.” Thirty years later, sales of the doll that Handler named after her daughter exceeded one billion dollars.

Ruth Lewis Farkas

The impressive and full life of Ruth Lewis Farkas spanned many occupations: educator, sociologist, businesswoman, philanthropist, inventor, wife, and mother. She was born on December 20, 1906, and raised in Manhattan, the fourth of Samuel Lewis and Jennie Bach’s five children. Farkas’s parents were in the real estate business, but Jennie Lewis also worked with the poor of Manhattan and occasionally allowed her young daughter to accompany her into tenements. She gave Ruth this advice: “No matter what your station in life, always try to contribute to those less fortunate.”

Gertrude Elion

Gertrude Elion’s biochemistry work revolutionized the ways drugs are developed. She received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine even though she never earned her PhD. Her career paved the way for chemotherapy, organ transplantation, anti-viral medications, and AIDS treatment.

Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Ayrton, born Phoebe Sarah Marks, was a distinguished British woman scientist, who, in 1902, was the first woman to be proposed for the fellowship of the Royal Society.

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