11 Crucial Inventions You Can Thank Women For
March 1, 2017
This Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to think about where we’d be without the inventions of some brilliant female minds: Stuck in a burning building with no way out, and without a chocolate chip cookie or a beer to bring comfort in our final moments. That was morbid, but you get the point.
Here are just a few things you might not have known were invented by women:
1. Beer, Thanks to lots of women!
We don’t actually know the individual who first created beer, but according to research conducted by historian Jane Peyton, for thousands of years brewing beer was a woman’s domain. According a 2010 Telegraph piece: “Nearly 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Sumeria, so important were [women’s] skills that they were the only ones allowed to brew the drink or run any taverns.”
2. The Square-Bottomed Paper Bag, Margaret Knight
Margaret Knight realized that paper bags without square bottoms weren’t all that useful, so she invented a machine to cut and attach flat bottoms to bags. Before she could patent the iron version of her machine, a man named Charles Annan stole her design, claiming that no woman could think of something so complex. Knight filed a lawsuit against him and proved that the prototype was in fact hers. She gained the patent in 1871.
3. Dishwasher, Josephine Cochrane
In 1886, socialite Josephine Cochrane was annoyed that her servants kept breaking her china. So, she invented the first workable dishwasher.
4. The Fire Escape, Anna Connelly
The first outdoor fire escape with an external staircase was patented by Anna Connelly in 1897. In the 1900s, Connelly’s model would become part of many mandatory building safety codes across the United States.
5. Monopoly, Elizabeth Magie
Monopoly, originally called The Landlord’s Game, was invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1903. Magie was inspired to create The Landlord’s Game “to demonstrate the tragic effects of land-grabbing.”
6. Windshield Wiper, Mary Anderson
In 1903, Mary Anderson noticed drivers stopping to clear snow and ice off their windshields. She came up with the windshield wiper — an arm with a rubber blade that could be activated without getting out of your car. She applied for a patent in 1904, and it was issued in 1905.
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ruth Wakefield
In 1930, Ruth Wakefield, who owned a lodge named the Toll House Inn, was making cookies for guests and realized that she was out of baker’s chocolate. She broke up pieces of a Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar, thinking that the chocolate would mix in and melt during baking, but it didn’t.
8. The Solar Heated Home, Dr. Maria Telkes
Dr. Maria Telkes worked at MIT on the university’s Solar Energy Research Project. In the 1940s, she developed the first solar-heated home with architect Eleanor Raymond.
9. Computer Software, Grace Hopper
Dr Grace Murray Hopper, a computer scientist, invented COBOL, the first user-friendly business computer software program in the 1950s. In 1969, she was awarded the first ever Computer Science Man of the Year Award.
10. Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek
Stephanie Kwolek’s research with chemical compounds for the DuPont Company led her to invent Kevlar — the material used in bulletproof vests — which was patented in 1966.
11. Stem Cell Isolation, Ann Tsukamoto
Ann Tsukamoto is one of two people who got a patent in 1991 for a process to isolate the human stem cell. Her work has led to advancements in comprehending the blood systems of cancer patients and could eventually lead to a cure.