Ever heard of Grace Hopper, Dr Shirley Jackson or Maria Beasley? I’m positive you haven’t because when do we ever talk about women inventors? We’re too busy talking about Einstein and Edison to spare a thought for the lesser known niche inventors like these women.
How about some GK notes here? Here are 14 women inventors you should know about if you don’t already.
1. Elizabeth Magie – Monopoly
Imagine inventing a game as awesome as Monopoly and then losing it to someone else! That’s the story of Elizabeth Magie, the inventor of The Landlord’s Game, a precursor to Monopoly which was a critique to injustices of capitalism. But, her idea was lost to Charles Darrow, who sold it to Parker Brothers, the guys who finally developed the game. She was only offered USD 500 much later. Sad, right?
2. Margaret Knight – S afety Device For Textile Looms
Known as ‘The Lady Edison’, this prolific inventor of the late 19th century, saved the textile workers plenty of injuries. She came up with a safety device to prevent such injuries after one of her co-workers was injured by a faulty machine. Good job, Miss!
3. Nancy Johnson – The Ice Cream Maker
The next time you eat ice-cream, think about this gracious woman, who bestowed upon us the greatest invention known to mankind. I mean seriously, can you imagine life without ice-cream? She patented the ice-cream maker design in 1843 and we cannot thank her enough!
4. Grace Hopper – Harvard’s Mark I Computer
Heard of the terms ‘bug’ and ‘debug’? This genius lady designed Harvard’s Mark I Computer, a five-ton, room-sized machine, in 1944 and coined these terms when she had to remove moths from the device! Hasn’t she made our lives a whole lot easier?
5. Melitta Bentz – Modern Day Coffee Brewing Method.
Thank her for all your early morning espressos and late nights cappuccinos. Had she not figured out a way to make the bitter coffee better, we’d all have never found a solution going for our taste buds. Her brilliant method got her a patented coffee filter system in 1908, after which she founded a business that still exists. Wow, right?
6. Marie Curie – Theory Of Radioactivity
We all know she discovered radium, but did you also know that she discovered polonium as well. And did you know that she was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, one in physics and the other in chemistry. She proved, during her studies of radioactivity, that you can in fact split an atom. Pure genius, I tell you!
7. Caresse Crosby – B ackless Brassiere a.k.a. Bras
After being completely frustrated from corsets and their suffocating fit, socialite Mary Phelps Jacob ( a.k.a. Caresse Crosby), decided to make life easier for ladies. According to sources, “She asked her maid to bring two handkerchiefs, some ribbons, and a few pins. From these items, she fashioned a lighter, more flexible undergarment that she called a ‘backless brassiere.'” She later founded the Fashion Form Brassière Company, which she eventually sold to Warner Brothers Corset Company.
8. Maria Telkes – The First 100 Percent Solar Powered House
This Hungarian scientist defines girl power quite literally! After conceiving the Dover House with her architect colleague, Eleanor Raymond, she designed the thermoelectric power generator to induce heat in the invention. Genius!
9. Rosalind Franklin – DNA Double Helix
For those of us who believe Watson and Crick to be the only contributors to the DNA model, time for some history check. Because it is actually ‘her-story’ that went into making history. She was the first person to capture a photographic image by observing molecules using X-ray diffraction, but her idea was stolen by a male colleague and forwarded to these Nobel Prize winners in Physiology in 1962. Sucks, na ?
10. Ann Tsukamoto – Stem Cell Isolation
She’s probably the coolest scientist on this list. Stem cell isolation has actually helped in advancing medical research to find cures for diseases like cancer! God bless the lady for giving us this beautiful gift.
11. Katharine Burr Blodgett – Non-Reflective Glass
Not only is she the first woman to receive a Ph.D in physics at England’s Cambridge University, she’s also the first woman employee of General Electric. Her non-reflective glass initially helped create many camera and movie projector lenses and today, is an essential for eyeglasses, car windshields and computer screens.
12. Maria Beasley – The Life Raft
Thanks to Maria, we found a solution to SOS situations at the sea that are potentially deadly. Also, she gave us a reason to go rafting. A brilliant lady, clearly!
13. Stephanie Kwolek – Kevlar, A Light Synthetic Fibre
The less I speak of Kevlar the better, because we literally cannot do without it. It’s five times stronger than steel and is used in bicycle tires, racing sails, body armour, frying pans, musical instruments and building construction! Phew, the list is endless!
14. Dr Shirley Jackson – Research Behind Major Inventions In Telecommunications.
Being the first black woman to receive a Ph.D from MIT in 1973 to a pioneer in telecom research, we really cannot picture an IT industry without her contributions. She’s enabled inventions like the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fibre optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting. I’m in awe!