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March 6, 2020

When We Hold Women Back, Everybody Loses


Tom Sullivan

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I recommend you watch the documentary, “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.” Lamarr was a leading movie star and labeled the most beautiful woman in the world in her day. But she also had a creative, scientific, and mathematical mind.

During World War II, and when not shooting scenes, Lamarr was working on an idea for a radio frequency-hopping system that would allow the Allies to prevent Nazi U-Boats from jamming their torpedo radio-guidance systems. She brought her ideas and sketches to the Department of Defense, which essentially ignored them until adopting them in the 1960s.

Lamarr’s wireless communication invention led to the creation of secure communications for wireless phones, GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technologies. Imagine if she had been taken seriously when she first approached the DOD? Think how many lives would have been saved. Think about how much further along the technology would be. Think how many young women she could have inspired.

Lamarr wasn’t recognized for her contributions until many years later. In 2014, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 100 years after her birth and fourteen years after her death.

Today, we honor innovators like Elon Musk as rock stars. But isn’t tomorrow’s rock star the little girl participating in a bi-lingual pre-school program? We have to adopt a mentality of abundance and possibility if we want to advance progress together. Legacy structures of ingrained discrimination are based on a win-lose, scarcity mentality. These self-protecting constructs are man-made territorial boundaries that hold societies back. We can’t afford these barriers in a connected world if we want to rise together.



Tom Sullivan
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Tom Sullivan is an accomplished business leader and brand marketing professional who brings together business, government, and non-profit experience to accelerate growth and advance positive change. He has led brand transformations and go-to-market initiatives for Fortune 1000 companies, major banks and financial institutions, hospitals, government entities, universities, and start-ups. He has worked with over twenty community banks with assets from $500 million to $50 billion and is dedicated to advancing the growth and success of community banks and the communities they serve. Tom has also advanced innovative programs and expansion initiatives for many non-profits, including Special Olympics New Jersey, and First Lady, Michele Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America (Let’s Move Campaign).

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