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Women’s History: Google’s Marian Croak is a Prolific Innovator in Technology


March is Women’s History Month. Therefore, we will use this opportunity to spotlight some African American women who are trailblazers in their fields. Women whose names and voices are not commonly known or heard from. This week that name is Dr. Marian Croak, who has more than 200 patents.

Dr. Marian Croak has more than 200 patents. (WIKIPEDIA)

One of her patents you may be the most familiar with is U.S. Patent No. 7.599,359 — VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Let’s learn more about this remarkable African American woman who has changed the way the world operates and conducts business.
Croak was born on May 14, 1955, in New York City. She credits her father, Raymond Rodgers, who only completed elementary school, with her success. Her father built her a home chemistry set, which became her inspiration in pursuing a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) career.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1977 and her Ph.D specializing in Quantitative Analysis and Psychology in 1982 from the University of Southern California.

After college, she began working for AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she worked in various positions at the senior executive level for over three decades.

It was during her work while at AT&T that Dr. Croak and her team contemplated the potential of digital telecommunications. She worked on advancing Voice over Internet Protocol technologies which converts voice data into digital signals that can be easily transmitted over the internet instead of using a traditional phone line. Her work has furthered the capabilities of audio and video conferencing resulting in zoom conferencing.

During her time at AT&T, Croak also patented the technology that allowed users to donate money to organizations using text messaging. This technology was developed during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Her patent revolutionized how people donate to charitable organizations. She received the Thomas Edison Patent Award for this technology in 2013.

Croak currently works as a senior vice president at Google. This innovator in 2021 became one of two African American females to ever be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Engineers. In 2022, she was inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Croak is also a renowned philanthropist dedicated to helping those in need. She has mentored many individuals pursuing STEM careers. She serves on several boards and is wife and the mother of three adult children.