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S.H.E. IS: Hedy Lamarr, Making Strides in Film and Science

Hedy Lamarr  (B. 1913 – D. 2000) was a woman well known for breaking barriers in the film industry with progressive film roles such as staring in one of the first nude scenes; however, she made important strides for science which are often ignored. Lamarr valued inventing and loved science which led to her creation that influenced the internet.

“All creative people want to do the unexpected” -Hedy Lamarr

Lamarr’s invention was a “secret communication system” which used “frequency hopping” to guide radio-controlled missiles underwater to detect previously undetectable weapons. In the second world war, her technological advancement was extremely important to the United States war effort. Her contribution influenced the technology we carry with us every day as it is the model for how internet connection reaches laptops and mobile phones. Her value as a scientist following this contribution was still degraded as she was told she would be better suited as a pin up girl (a woman who entertains soldiers, sells war bonds, and models for advertisements.

Do you think Hedy Lamarr is better known from her beauty or her scientific contributions? Most people know of her acting career, which was her main focus in life, but this side of her dedicated to science is equally important to remember. Her worth transcended the beauty and roles which Hollywood created for her, as she had an amazing life as an inventor that was ignored until the 1990s. Since then, her value as a scientist has been more well-known; however, she did not receive credit for this success until late in her life and after her death.

Forgotten women of science such as Hedy Lamarr are extremely important to rediscover as they influenced our lives in monumental ways. Hedy Lamarr was a popular figure, and her contributions to science were still lost. When researching Hedy Lamarr, I thought about how her platform in Hollywood could have been used to promote scientific education and achievements for women and girls if her invention was more well-known. This research led to more questions such as: Do we need a Hollywood figure to raise awareness about scientific achievements and to make science popular? How can Hollywood help us discover these hidden figures? Continuing your personal research is important as we need to rediscover these important women and find these role models for future generations.

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