Author: Bharati Bakshani | Practices: , | Tags: , , ,


Div IP 2019

“Women should always have a seat at the table. They bring a unique vision and voice in every situation. I have had great pleasure in meeting and working with many amazing women from all over the world who have overcome challenges through perseverance and hard work, while remaining true to their individual cultures and backgrounds. These women have had an uplifting influence on me both personally and professionally and I am deeply proud of their creative accomplishments and professional achievements.”

Bharati Bakshani – Partner, Ladas & Parry LLP


Dr. Shirley Jackson was born in 1946 and is a theoretical physicist.  She is the first woman and the first African American to be the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Jackson’s research and experiments spurred advances in telecommunications and development of technologies for the invention of the portable fax, touchtone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, caller id and call waiting while at AT&T Bell Laboratories. In addition to these impressive accomplishments, Dr. Jackson was also the first African American woman to graduate with a PhD from MIT and the first woman and first African American to be named as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Dr. Jackson has received innumerable awards, including the National Medal of Science – awarded by President Obama (the nation’s highest honor for contributions in science and technology) in 2016. She has also sat on the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange, IBM Corporation and FEDEX Corporation, among many others. Time Magazine called her “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science”.

GLADYS WEST (1930-):

Gladys West is a true pioneer and inventor. She is an African American mathematician born in 1930. She provided calculations that led to the development of global positioning system technology (“GPS”). Her discovery was made during her tenure at the male dominated Weapons Laboratory – Dahlgren in Virginia, where she worked for 40 years. GPS is utilized in missile defense systems, the U.S. Space Program and by hundreds of millions of smart phone and computer owners and navigation systems throughout the world. In 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded her the “U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award”. The award recognizes “the leaders of the early years of the Air Force space program” and salutes “the innovators whose vision and perseverance overcame the obstacles of the unknown”.  Her achievements are an inspiration to all Americans and perhaps especially little girls with an interest in math, science and Space technology.


Stephanie Kwolek was an American chemist and inventor.  In 1965, she unexpectedly discovered a process for creating a man-made fiber that was five times as strong as steel and fire-resistant, yet lightweight.  The first Kevlar® vests were introduced to the market ten years after her discovery, and these products have gone on to save thousands of lives, in addition to myriad other applications.  Ms. Kwolek is a named inventor on a line of patents covering this process and the resulting fiber.  Among her many achievements, Ms. Kwolek was awarded the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement, bestowed by the President of the United States of America on America’s leading innovators, in 1996; the Society of Chemical Industry’s Perkin Medal, one of the highest honors awarded in applied chemistry in the U.S., in 1997; was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995 and the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003; and is the first and only woman to receive DuPont’s Lavoisier Medal, in 1995.  Ms. Kwolek also served as a mentor for female scientists, including tutoring high school students in chemistry after her retirement.

SARAH E. GOODE (circa 1855-1905):

Sarah E. Goode received a patent (U.S. Patent No. 322,177) on July 14, 1885 for a cabinet bed. Accounts of Goode’s early life are murky: some say she was born a slave and others suggest she was born a free woman. What is known about her is that at some point in her life, she married and moved with her husband, a carpenter, to Chicago, Illinois where they owned a furniture store. It was during this time that she invented a folding bed that could be formed into a desk when not in use. Sarah’s invention was a practical one that served an underrepresented population of customers, who lived in small apartments where space for furniture was scarce.

JUDY W. REED (circa 1826-1905):

Easing the burden of housework was behind many of the inventions made by women, including the hand operated dough kneader and roller (U.S. Patent No. 305,474 on September 23, 1884) invented by Judy Reed. Ms. Reed is believed by many to be the first African American woman to receive a patent. Though Reed’s name appears on her patent, many black female inventors at the time were afraid to have their name associated with their inventions because of the likelihood that white people would refuse to buy a product they knew was invented by a black woman.

Marie Curie was born in Poland in 1867. Curie was unable to seek traditional higher education in Poland because she was a woman; instead, she attended a “Flying University” – a clandestine and illegal university open to men and women. In 1891, Curie left Poland for Paris, studying physics, chemistry, and mathematics at the Sorbonne, where she pioneered research on radioactivity.

Curie, working with her husband Pierre, developed a method for isolating radioactive (a term she coined) material, which led to their discovery of the elements polonium and radium in 1898. Curie also championed the use of radium as a treatment for cancer after discovering that radium destroyed diseased cells faster than healthy cells. The Curies chose not to patent their process for isolating radioactive material or radium’s medical applications, believing that others should be able to use them for the advancement of science and benefit of humanity.

In 1903, Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, in Physics for research on radiation phenomena. She received the prize jointly with her husband Pierre and shared with Henri Becquerel. Initially only Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel were nominated for the prize, but after being advised of Marie’s exclusion, Pierre wrote to the Nobel Committee that “a Nobel Prize for research in radioactivity that failed to acknowledge Marie’s pivotal role would be a travesty.” In 1911, Marie Curie became the first person to win a Nobel Prize twice, in Chemistry for the discovery and study of the elements radium and polonium. Curie remains the only woman to win a Nobel Prize twice and the only person ever to win a Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields.

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