The Digimarc Blog

Inspired by Trailblazing Women

March 8 was International Women’s Day. In the spirit of this important day, we asked Digimarc employees about the women that have inspired them personally and professionally. Here are some of the unforgettable, trailblazing women they cited, and why they chose them:

Chien-Shiung Wu – Nuclear Physicist

“As an Asian-American woman, I see few role models in leadership that I can identify with personally. Wu performed experiments that tested the fundamental laws of physics in a male-dominated field. Her work will forever inspire me to challenge the status quo for advancement and innovation.”

 

Rosalind Franklin – Chemist and X-ray Crystallographer

“Using X-ray diffraction photography, Dr. Franklin was a British scientist who contributed to the discovery that DNA had a double helix structure. She later turned her attention to studying the structure of RNA viruses, laying the foundation for modern virology and the ultimate development of coronavirus vaccines. Four years after she passed away, at age 37 from ovarian cancer, her colleagues received the Noble Prize for their DNA discovery. Unfortunately, the Nobel Foundation does not give posthumous prizes.”

 

Lillian Todd – Inventor and Airplane Technology Pioneer

“Last year, my daughter had a book from the school library about Lily Todd and I found her story to be quite remarkable. Really at the dawn of powered flight—1903—Lily had a tremendous passion for the field and embarked on an unimaginable mission of designing and building her own flying machine. Through a lot of experimentation, study and work she had that machine by 1910. I loved learning about this woman who had so many technical and cultural things working against her and yet achieved something that was impossible to imagine even a few years earlier. Was she the first? No. Was her plane more successful than others of the time? No. But she did it through focused determination.”

 

Fei-Fei Li – Scientist, Researcher and Academic

“I find Fei-Fei Li to be a remarkable role model for driving, not only research and technology, but societal consciousness, into the future. Besides being a renowned researcher in computer vision, and a Stanford professor, she is a Chief Scientist for AI and Machine Learning at Google, and runs a nonprofit called AI4ALL which supports K-12 AI programs for under-represented groups. She focuses her mission on ‘democratizing AI,’ by lowering the barrier to entry for developers and businesses, to keep it from being monopolized or hoarded, and often speaks about the ethical considerations of AI—which many key people working in AI fail to do (just watch The Social Dilemma). Seeing technical leaders like her breaking new ground sets a cultural precedent that I generally appreciate, and she’s impacted me personally by informing how I engage with AI as a software engineer.”

 

Malala Yousafzai – Education Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

“Malala's sense of conviction, purpose and self-sacrificing actions at such a young age are what made a lasting impression on me. Her continuing advocacy to uplift women across the world, even knowing firsthand the possible consequences, leave me in awe and inspire me to do more good with my time here on earth. I also have to give tribute to her father who insisted on a proper education for his daughter even in the face of the daily aggressors. I had a father with similar characteristics. They are truly changemakers.”

 

Hedy Lamarr – Actor and Inventor

“Better known as a successful actor, Hedy Lamarr co-invented a radio guidance system using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology (techniques incorporated into Bluetooth technology today) for Allied torpedoes in WWII. She also helped sell war bonds and worked with Howard Hughes on aircraft aerodynamics. I love that she was a self-taught inventor and an entrepreneur who formed her own production company. Alexandra Dean produced a documentary called Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr story. I highly recommend it (96% on Rotten Tomatoes too!), and you’ll support a female director while you’re at it.”

 

Susan Sontag – Writer and Cultural Critic

“Susan Sontag’s book, Against Interpretation and Other Essays, remains one of the smartest, most intellectually-challenging books of criticism I’ve ever come across. Sontag was an unabashed intellectual, who didn’t suffer fools, and had seemingly read everything ever written or published. She helped me to think more deeply about literature and film, and remains a touchstone for my thinking about books, art and cinema.”

Learn more about pioneering women in this Britannica article,“10 Women Scientists Who Should Be Famous (or More Famous).”

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