IT Girls’ Role Models

May 13, 2008

According to a study by Research in Motion, girls aren’t interested in getting into IT. OK, we kind of knew this already. According to the article,

of the relative(ly) few “smart female role models,” the survey says. More than half the girls also think there should be fewer celebrity role models like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, and more inspirational business role models.

Good. If McCain picks one of his chief economic advisors as his running mate and then happens to win the election, then you’d have an inspirational business role model. Imagine being fired from her job as a high profile CEO, then being pilloried in the media, then rising from the ashes to become Vice President.

As for celebrity role models, there could be one, a celebrity and technological significant person all rolled up into one. Hedy Lamarr was even more controversial in her day than Spears or Lohan – she created a scandal in 1933 when she appeared in perhaps film’s first nude scene in the movie Ecstasy. She was also married six times.

But she and George Antheil got a patent in 1942 for the concept of “frequency hopping”. According to the IEEE article:

Frequency hopping means broadcasting a signal over a seemingly random series of radio frequencies, switching from frequency to frequency at split-second intervals. Anyone trying to eavesdrop would hear only random noise, like a radio dial being spun. But if both the sender and the receiver were hopping in sync, the message would go through loud and clear.

In 1962, three years after the patent expired, the pair’s idea was used in military communication systems installed on U.S. ships sent to blockade Cuba. Subsequent patents in frequency changing have referred to the Lamarr-Antheil patent as the basis of the field, and the concept lies behind the principal anti-jamming devices used today, for example, in the U.S. government’s Milstar defense communications satellite system.

 

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