I’ve recently written an essay for my module, ‘Gender, Science and Knowledge’ and based my thesis about the traditional concept of ‘rationality’ and knowledge and how, (wrongly) it was associated as an exclusive male trait!
Basically it all stems from Ancient Greece, with Plato putting forward a division between the higher mind and lower body. This was then taken to be a metaphor between the superiority of men and inferiority of women. Basically, women were viewed to not be capable of knowledge or reason. I know – ridiculous isn’t it!
The sad thing is that there is a significant absence of women in the scientific field…despite girls being proved to be better at science at educational level. (Instantly defeating tradition, woo)
It may be down to the stereotypical imagine of a scientist, you know, an older European male – such as Einstein. But this is so wrong – women are just as capable as making a significance difference, not just to science but to all aspects of the world!
In doing my research for this essay, I finally had the confidence to add a little bit of my own style to my essay – incorporating vintage! There is no better ‘Woman in Science’ to talk about other than: Hedy Lamarr.
Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, Hedy changed her named in honour of Barbara La Marr, the film star.
You may know Hedy as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies. She originally made her name in the very controversial and erotic 1933 film ‘Ecstasy’. (which was banned in America until 1940)
Until she changed to her Hollywood name, she was actually referred to as the ‘Ecstacy Lady.’ She acted through the Golden Age of film – up until the 1950s, appearing in 25 feature length films.
Additionally you may know her as ‘the World’s most beautiful woman’ – which is understandable. However, her physical beauty and her erotic film appearance seems to be what she is predominately known for – which reinstates the traditional concept of women being associated as lower and as the body. It may be noted that Hedy was not enthused about this label, famously quoting “Any girl can be glamorous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.”
You may or may not know that Hedy was also an amazing inventor! During the war, and alongside her acting career, Hedy was heavily – yet secretly – involved with the war effort.
In 1942 she worked alongside a friend, George Antheil, and used her scientific knowledge and inventor experience to create a specific signalling system: The Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum. This was to be used in the radios in torpedoes, aiming to interfere with the signals of the enemy.
Hedy appeared to detach her life as an actress with her life as inventor, signing the system in her own married name. Perhaps for legal reasons, or perhaps to be taken more seriously. Maybe it was remove further stereotypes, such as the typical Hollywood
Although created in 1942, the device wasn’t implemented until 1962, where it was used in naval ships in the Cold War.
The most amazing thing? Without Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil’s knowledge and reason – we probably wouldn’t have WiFi as we know it today? How cool is that?
So, not only are women more than their physical beauty but the technology we use all day everyday and surrounded by constantly – was technically created by a woman.
Tradition is overturned and we should all strive to do what inspires us, ignoring stereotype. That may not be just one thing but various outlets – such as Hedy’s acting and her inventing!