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MBHB Celebrates Women’s History Month: Inventor Stephanie Kwolek

March 15, 2021

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month in March in recognition of it as an annual celebration of achievements by women in spotlighting their critical role in U.S. history. In this regard, we are highlighting noteworthy women inventors whose creations changed the world.

Stephanie Kwolek was a chemist who invented Kevlar. Upon accepting a research position with DuPont in 1946 (to save up for medical school), Kwolek discovered a passion for chemistry research that led to a 40 year career at DuPont. Her invention of Kevlar arose from an experiment that sought to turn a solid polymer into a liquid — but did not work as originally planned. While her peers considered her initial experiment a failure, she took a much closer look and discovered that fibers within the liquid were five times stronger than steel. Kevlar has been widely used for everything from boots for firefighters to spacecraft parts, but perhaps it is most famous for its use in bulletproof body armor vests including by police officers, soldiers and others.