Are y’all even ready for this?! Meet Stephanie Kwolek, an American chemist who invented kevlar.
Kwolek was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania in 1923. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Kwolek worked for the DuPont Company as a chemist where she specialized in the creation of a family of synthetic fibers of exceptional strength and stiffness, the most famous of which is kevlar – “a material used in protective vests as well as in boats, airplanes, ropes, cables, and much more—in total about 200 applications.” –Chemical Heritage Foundation
Kwolek began her most famous work in the 60’s and, if I am to use that as a jumping-off point, can deduce that her work was being published and lauded during the beginning of America’s Second Wave of Feminism. An interesting time to be a female in a male-dominated field, to be sure. While feminism is still, very clearly, a topic for discussion in my own time, the Second Wave was marked by a distinctly white-females-first mentality that I believe is being broken down in my generation. This, along with the greater emphasis of females in STEM fields, are two of the greatest differences I see in the cultures Kwolek and I experience.
In order to find Kwolek’s research, I typed “female technology” into a Google search and scrolled through the first several articles until I found a type of technology that interested me. As the granddaughter, daughter, sister, niece, girlfriend, and friend of police and members of the military, I know how vital kevlar vests are. Choosing Kwolek for my research project was kind of a no-brainer after reading that.