SEATTLE — Though there has been a lot of work trying to get more women in STEM-related fields, the numbers are still relatively low, especially when talking about female inventors.
However, one Boeing worker is proving to be a leader in the industry.
"We kind of use the mantra from atoms to airplanes," said Kay Blohowiak, a senior technical fellow in Materials and Manufacturing Technologies at Boeing.
For an inventor, those atoms are important.
Kay started working as a chemist at Boeing in 1989.
“Yeah, it's kind of weird to think about a chemist being at Boeing.”
Thirty-three years later, her inventions have advanced aviation for commercial and military aircraft as well as space vehicles.
“Our job is to generate technology for the next generation of vehicles,” said Kay.
Kay has 55 patents and 100 publications.
“The numbers for women inventors are lower as a group than the general population,” Kay said.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in 2019, the share of female inventors receiving patents was just 13%.
“I remember how hard it was when I started, how important it is just to have somebody recognize that,” said Kay.
That’s why mentoring young women inventors is so important to her.
Kay's daughter, Denise, is a materials and process engineer in the Materials and Integrations group at Boeing. She worked with her mother to produce a patent for a cryogenic-assisted adhesive removal tool.
"The future is that we don't have the resources to keep utilizing these too-harsh chemicals," said Denise.
"I mean, I could never be prouder every day. It's just a lot of fun having her here," said Kay. And it just so happens that Denise is following in her mom’s footsteps.
"She's a very smart woman,” said Denise.
Both Blohowiak's said there are many exciting inventions on the horizon.
"The next 50 years, which hopefully I won't be here for all 50 of them, are going to be really exciting to watch from the world of aerospace and what's to come," said Kay.