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5 Influential Women of STEM We Wish We Knew

Inspiring Women in STEM

For years women have been underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) university courses and occupations.

At Source Talent we feel there is a lack of awareness around the Women in STEM who changed the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for good.

Here are 5 women of STEM that we wish we knew.


Sarah Guppy

Born in 1770, Sarah Guppy was an English inventor who was the first woman to patent a bridge in 1811 while also developing a range of other domestic and marine products.

She patented a new mode of constructing and erecting bridges and railroads without arches or sterling’s whereby the danger of being washed away by floods was prevented.

This was during a time when women were expected to dedicate themselves to domestic duties but, with Sarah’s business mind, inventions, and interest in engineering, she went on to break down these barriers. 

Unfortunately, Guppy was later was incorrectly credited for work, specifically with the design of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge.

She also invented many other things, including a bed with built-in exercise equipment, a device for a tea or coffee urn and a device for improvements in caulking ships, boats, and other vessels.

In later life, she also invented the fire hood or Cook's Comforter and patented a new type of candlestick that enabled candles to burn longer.


Ada Lovelace

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer.

She was an English writer and mathematician at a time when only a few women were noted as such.

Primarily known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, The Analytical Engine.

And her notes were considered to be the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.

This was unfortunately overshadowed by the future of electronics, and so her inspiring impact on engineering should be noted.

Particularly, as her unsettled upbringing did not stop her from successes. 

Successes that continue to be honoured by modern institutes to this day.


Grace Murray Hopper 

Born in 1906, Grace Murray Hopper fought for a women’s capability to do math.

Having been told she could not enlist in the Navy because of her size and age, she went out to prove them wrong.

In fact, her mother was her motivation after she was not able to study mathematics having been held back by society in the late 1800s.

And prove them wrong was exactly what she did.

She graduated from Vassar College and received her master's degree in Mathematics and Physics before becoming the first woman to receive a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University.

She later served her country during World War II and assigned to the bureau of ordnance computation project at Harvard University where she joined the first programming team for the Mark I computer.

She popularized the term ‘computer bug’ after her team found a moth causing problems inside the Mark II and went on to create the first modern programming languages, which enabled computers to respond to words rather than numbers.


Beatrice ‘Tilly’ Shilling

Born in 1909, Tilly Shilling was a celebrated aeronautical engineer and successful motorcycle racer who was best known for her work on carburettors at the Royal Aircraft Establishment during the Second World War.

Recruited to The Royal Aircraft Establishment in 1936, she became the leading specialist in aircraft carburettors.

And during the Second World War worked on a serious problem affecting the Rolls Royce Merlin engines, which would misfire or cut out, restricting the device, which later became known as ‘Miss Shilling’s orifice.

But this is not only where her interests lay. In 1934 she then became only the second woman to gain a Brooklands Gold Star for lapping the track at over 100mph.

After the war, Silling continued to work in aircraft engineering and worked on a variety of projects, including the effects that a wet runway had on braking.


Delia Ann Derbyshire

Delia Ann Derbyshire was born in 1937. She was an English musician and composer of electronic music. 

She was an extremely bright child and from the age of four, was teaching others in her primary school class to read and write, saying, "The radio was my education."

Her parents bought her a piano when she was eight years old and later went on to be accepted at both Oxford and Cambridge during the fifties where only one in 10 students were female.

Her pioneering work was carried out with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during the 1960s, including her electronic arrangement of the theme music to the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who.

Having had such an impact on electronic music, she was often referred to as the ‘unsung heroine of British electronic music and went on to influence many musicians, including The Chemical Brothers, Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, and the Aphex Twin.


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