Women inventors have made a significant impact throughout history, and their contributions have often been overshadowed or forgotten. From household items to cutting-edge technology, women have invented countless things that are essential to our daily lives. Here are 14 of the most significant female inventors in the past 200 years.
The dishwasher – Josephine Cochrane (1839-1913)
In 1886, Josephine Cochrane invented the first practical dishwasher. She was tired of breaking her dishes while washing them by hand and decided to create a machine that could do the job for her. Her dishwasher used water pressure instead of scrubbing, making it more efficient and gentle on dishes.
Kevlar – Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014)
In 1965, Stephanie Kwolek invented kevlar, a strong and lightweight synthetic fiber used in bulletproof vests, helmets, and other protective gear. Her discovery has saved countless lives and is still used today in various industries.
The circular saw – Tabitha Babbitt (1779-1853)
In 1812, Tabitha Babbitt invented the circular saw after noticing that men were struggling with the traditional two-man pit saw. Her design improved efficiency and reduced the physical labor required, making it a game-changer in the logging industry.
Windshield wipers – Mary Anderson (1866-1953)
In 1902, Mary Anderson patented the first windshield wiper. She came up with the idea while riding on a trolley car in New York City during a snowstorm. Her invention was a significant improvement in driver visibility and safety.
Wireless transmission technology – Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)
Hedy Lamarr, known as a Hollywood actress, also had an inventive mind. In 1942, she co-invented frequency-hopping technology with composer George Antheil that is used in wireless communication today, including GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
The chocolate chip cookie – Ruth Wakefield (1903-1977)
Ruth Wakefield invented the first chocolate chip cookie in 1938 while running the Toll House Inn with her husband. She added chopped up pieces of a Nestle chocolate bar to her cookie dough, creating a beloved treat that is still enjoyed worldwide.
The life raft – Maria Beasley (1847-1904)
Maria Beasley designed and patented a self-righting, inflatable life raft in 1882. Her invention was a significant improvement from the previous models, which were heavy, difficult to deploy, and often did not work correctly.
The medical syringe – Letitia Geer (1859-1934)
Letitia Geer invented the medical syringe in 1899, making it easier for doctors to administer accurate and precise doses of medication. Her design was an improvement from earlier models that were challenging to use and often resulted in inaccurate dosages.
Monopoly – Elizabeth Magie (1866-1948)
Elizabeth Magie invented the board game Monopoly in 1904 as a tool to teach about the dangers of monopolies and land ownership. The game was later bought by Parker Brothers and became one of the most popular board games in history.
The cotton gin – Catherine Littlefield Greene (1755-1814)
In 1793, Catherine Littlefield Greene’s husband Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, but she was responsible for the idea and design. Her invention revolutionized the cotton industry by automating the process of separating seeds from cotton fibers.
Liquid Paper – Bette Nesmith Graham (1924-1980)
Bette Nesmith Graham, a single mother working as an executive secretary in Dallas in 1956, came up with the idea for Liquid Paper to fix typing mistakes. Her invention eventually became a household name and was later sold to Gillette for millions.
The Paper Bag – Margaret Knight (1838-1914)
In 1868, Margaret Knight invented a machine that folded and glued paper bags, revolutionizing the packaging industry. Her invention was an improvement from the previous method of hand-sewing bags, which was time-consuming and not efficient.
The carbon monoxide detector – Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911)
Ellen Swallow Richards, a chemist and environmentalist, invented the first carbon monoxide detector in 1897. Her device was initially used to detect gas leaks but has since been modified for use as a safety tool in homes and businesses.
The Apgar Score – Virginia Apgar (1909-1974)
Virginia Apgar, an obstetrical anesthesiologist, invented the Apgar Score in 1952 to assess the health of newborn babies. Her scoring system is still used today and has helped save countless lives by identifying potential health issues early on.
These are just a few examples of women inventors who have significantly impacted society. Their contributions are a testament to the power of creativity, determination, and innovation. These female innovators have blazed a trail of progress with their groundbreaking creative contributions. Not only did they accept a challenge and push boundaries, but by breaking new ground, they have helped shape the technologies we take for granted today.
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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.