ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Famous Female Inventors

Updated on December 28, 2014
Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace

The Spirit of Invention

Sometimes it is easy to forget how far women have come in our quest for equality. We forget that in the United States we have been able to vote for less than one hundred years, and have only had the right to hold property (physical or intellectual) a few years more than that.

How must it have felt to invent something from the tiny seed of an idea to the nuts and bolts of the product only to be denied a patent on the basis of your gender, or worse yet to have your idea stolen by a man who knows you can never profit from it?

So here are a few of the female pioneers in invention, women who thought outside the box, some of whom made millions, others nothing.

Source

Ada Lovelace

Often referred to as the world's first computer programmer, Lovelace collaborated with Charles Babbage, using advanced mathematics to work out a language for his machine, a machine now acknowledged as the first computer. The US Department of Defense named their 1979 software "Ada" in her honor.

Mary Anderson

Inspired by a visit to NYC in the early 1900s during which Anderson observed the constant need for drivers to stop to clear their windshields, she went home and invented the first windshield wiper; a handle inside of the vehicle attached to a squeegee on the outside. It was patented by her in 1903.

Interestingly, it was a woman inventor, Charlotte Bridgwood, who patented the first automatic windshield wiper fourteen years later in 1917.

Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

In 1941, the famous Austrian actress with co-inventor George Anthiel developed and patented an unbreakable code used to help combat the Nazis in World War II. By manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, their "Spread Spectrum Technology" stopped the Allies classified messages from being intercepted by Nazis.

It was not until the Cuban Missile Crisis that it's true military implications were realized. More recently the technology was utilized to form the technical backbone making cell phones and other wireless operations possible.

Stephanie Kwolek
Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek

Though she is the recipient or co-recipient of 17 U.S. patents, Kwolek's most noted invention began in 1971 when she discovered a liquid crystalline polymer solution that led the way to the invention of Kevlar®, a synthetic material five times as strong as steel. As the main ingredient in the production of bulletproof vests Kevlar® has become a staple piece of equipment for soldiers and law enforcement as it is not only strong and light but fire and wear resistant as well.

Josephine Cochrane
Josephine Cochrane
Mary Phelps Jacob
Mary Phelps Jacob

Josephine Cochrane

Founder of the Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company which later became part of KitchenAid and the inventor of the first truly usable mechanical dishwasher. Although there were other dishwashers before hers they were slow, labor intensive and not widely used. Cochrane on the other hand began receiving orders for her design almost immediately from hotels and restaurants all over her home state of Illinois. She even won the prize for "best mechanical construction, durability and adaptation to its line of work" at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Mary Phelps Jacob

Jacob, a young New York socialite tired of uncomfortable and heavy corsets took two silk handkerchiefs and had her maid sew them together with ribbon and cord. After spreading her inventions to friends Jacobs patented it and sold the rights to Warner Brothers Corset Company making her invention the most used brassiere in the United States for the next 30 years.

Gertrude Elion
Gertrude Elion | Source

Additional Female Inventors


  • Dr. Temple Grandin - animal restraint systems
  • Dr. Grace Murray Hopper - COBOL computer language
  • Patsy Sherman - ScotchGuard stain repellent
  • Rachel Zimmerman - Blissymbols communication software for physically impaired
  • Patricia Billings - Geobond® (non toxic alternative to asbestos)
  • Williamina Fleming - created the system of assigning stars a letter corresponding to how much hydrogen is observed in their spectra
  • Florence Barbara Seibert - Developed the skin test for tuberculosis



Gertrude Elion

Gertrude Elion knew she wanted work in cancer research from the time she was 15 years old. Four years later, after graduating with the highest undergraduate honors in chemistry from Hunter College she found her path was going to be more difficult than she expected. Over a dozen institutes rejected her application for graduate school because of her gender so Elion ended up working as an unpaid lab assistant until hired by the pharmaceuticals company Burroughs Wellcome. While there she developed 6-mercaplopurine used in chemotherapy to treat children with leukemia, an invention that won her the Nobel Prize. She was also involved in the research of Imuran, which aids the body in accepting transplanted organs, and Zovirax, which is used to fight herpes.

In Conclusion

There are dozens, probably hundreds of women not included in this hub, each a pioneer in her own field, be that in the kitchen inventing chocolate chip cookies (for which I am eternally grateful to Ruth Wakefield) or in the lab as part of the team discovering nuclear fission like Austrian physicist Lise Meitner (overlooked for the Nobel prize because of her gender though as a consolation Element 109, meitnerium is named for her).

Whether you are a die hard feminist, a student of history or just a curious reader, I hope this little window into the works of female inventors will send some you out in search of more remarkable women, past and present.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • brownella profile imageAUTHOR

      brownella 

      2 years ago from New England

      Hi Rachel. I know, I was amazed to find so many names I didn't recognize too. Once you start researching these types of things you run into all kinds of interesting characters and inventions. Thanks for reading :-)

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      How interesting that they don't teach you in school about the women inventors. I never knew about these women before. Thank you for the information and enlightening us.

      Blessings to you.

    • brownella profile imageAUTHOR

      brownella 

      3 years ago from New England

      Hi Lee, so glad you enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun to research. Thanks for reading :-)

    • profile image

      Lee Cloak 

      3 years ago

      A seriously great hub, very interesting and full of great detail, Voted up, thanks, Lee

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)