Episode 40 • 06/06/2023

Jane Plitt, President of The National Center of Women’s Innovations (NCWI), on the Founders of GPS, Frequency Hopping and Duct Tape

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How does a sharecropper become a pre-eminent mathematician who is able to map the world, thus paving the way for GPS? Where would we be without GPS today? Lost, for sure!

In this episode of Associations Thrive, host Joanna Pineda interviews Jane Plitt, President of the National Center of Women’s Innovations (NCWI). Jane introduces the Center, talks about her journey to becoming President, and then shares some amazing stories of women innovators, including:

  • Dr. Gladys West, the African-American woman who used mathematics to map the earth’s shape and made GPS possible.
  • Hedy Lamarr, the glamorous film star who, at the beginning of World War II, helped to develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers.
  • Martha Matilda Harper, the inventor of the international retail franchising concept, the reclining shampoo chair and cutout sink.
  • Vesta Stoudt who, during WWII, was worried that the packaging for ammunition wasn’t strong enough, so she invented duct tape. And the world was changed forever.

Jane talks about the origins of the Center, why it’s important to tell the stories of women innovators, the Center’s upcoming gala in October 2023 where Dr. Gladys West will be honored, and the interactive museum they will create in the VA Tech campus opening up in Alexandria, VA.


About Jane Plitt

Jane R. Plitt has spent her lifetime creatively pursuing just causes, especially linked to women’s rights.  In the seventies, as a rare female graduate of Cornell U. Labor Relations, she led successful efforts to eliminate help wanted gender ads, integrate men’s only grills and service organizations like the Kiwanis, Jaycees, Rotary, and others. That led to her becoming NOW’s first national executive director; a time when Title IX was created.  Ultimately, Plitt co-created the Rochester Women’s Network, her own award winning marketing and economic development consulting firm until she became enamored with the buried story of Martha Matilda Harper, and spent six years unearthing the tale. After she produced three books about Harper for all ages, she campaigned for Harper’s recognition. Now Jane thinks it is time to unearth the tales of thousands of more women innovators.

About The National Center of Women’s Innovations

The National Center of Women’s Innovations envisions a world in which women’s inventions receive mainstream recognition and offer critical education to students, inventors, scholars and businesses worldwide to build upon. That’s why they showcase and promote the achievements of yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s women innovators through a high-tech educational platform and inspire solutions for the future.

The NCWI is a place of discovery, delight, and insight.

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About Associations Thrive

Associations Thrive podcast is hosted by Joanna Pineda, CEO & Chief Troublemaker at Matrix Group International. Joanna’s personal mission and the mission of Matrix Group is to help associations and nonprofits increase membership, generate revenue and thrive in the digital space. 

We believe that every association has a unique mission and unique story that demonstrates how they’re serving their members, impacting their industry, and ultimately changing the world. Every guest is an association Chief Executive, Executive Director or President. We’re here to help amplify their stories so all associations can learn and thrive, together.

If you and your organization have a great story,  apply to be on Associations Thrive!