Here we are in 2022 and many people have no clue just how big a role women had in inventions that have changed how we live our lives.It doesn’t matter if its technology, games, mechanics or any other part of making life better, women have had a big part in the world of inventions. A lot of what is part of our daily lives today was invented by a woman. Unfortunately, so many were never given the credit they deserve until in recent years. The History Channel deserves kudos for bringing some of these to the forefront. Here are just a few of the inventions that were created by the ladies.
The Car Heater The inventor of this gem was Margaret A. Wilcox. She was born in Chicago in 1838 and was 55 when she got the patent for the first car heaters in 1893. Auto manufacturers in the early 20th century didn’t bother with her invention saying it was too cumbersome and too expensive to add onto their vehicles. One car company actually turned it down because she was a woman. However, by the mid and late 1930’s car manufacturers finally saw the potential of adding the heater to their automobiles, Nash being the first in 1937. It didn’t take long before not only automobiles, but trucks and buses would be adding this feature as well in the coming decades. By the 1950’s heaters were standard in cars.
The Landlord’s Game – One of the most famous board games of all time, responsible for endless hours of wholesome family fun and/or devastating family arguments, was invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904 under the original name The Landlord’s Game. Magie’s game was a critique of the injustices of unchecked capitalism, making it all the more ironic when her game was completely ripped off by Charles Darrow 30 years later. He then sold the game to Parker Brothers who changed it to Monopoly. After acquiring the game and finding out who actually invented it, Parker Brothers finally tracked down Ms. Magie and paid her $500 for her game.
Wireless Transmission Technology – Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was born in Vienna in 1914. As a child she was always fascinated by electrical things and was extremely intelligent. During the Nazi reign in Europe she left her homeland and came to the U.S. in the 1930’s to continue a career she had begun in Europe. In addition to her regular career she was also busy with electronics. That led to Ms. Keisler inventing a secret communications system during World War II for radio-controlling torpedoes and employing “frequency hopping” technology that would help fight the enemy. All of this that was used in WW II laid the groundwork for everything today from Wi-Fi to the GPS and more. By the way, this female inventor was better known by her Hollywood movie name…..Hedy Lamarr.
Fire Escapes – Anna Connelly was one of the first women after the Civil War allowed to submit designs for products and inventions for patent. She received the patent for the fire escape in 1887. Her design was a revolutionary way to make buildings safer by adding an exterior staircase with platforms between levels to prevent people from falling several stories down a flight of stairs inside a building during the panic of an emergency. This new safety invention would also enable fire fighters to more effectively target fires by allowing them to haul water to specific areas of the structure, which decreased the personal risk to the fire fighters and allowed them to battle the blaze more quickly. So for the thousands of lives that have been saved due to this invention over the past 130 years, thank a woman.
The Dishwasher – Chipped china led to the invention of this appliance. Josephine Cochrane was married and lived a high society life with her husband. One night after entertaining friends the kitchen staff were washing dishes. Some of the fine china got chipped and Ms. Cochrane was very angry over it, but it gave her the idea of the dishwasher. She worked on a design and after trial and error finally had the right design and received a patent in 1886. Her first sales went to ritzy hotels like the Palmer House in Chicago and others before it became available to the homemaker. She had founded her own company, doing very well, but passed away in 1913. In 1916 her company was sold and became the Whirlpool Corporation.
Kevlar – This life saving material was discovered by chemist Stephanie Kwolek. The daughter of Polish immigrants, she was a highly revered and award winning chemist with the DuPont Corporation. In 1964 with the anticipation of gasoline shortages on the horizon the company was looking for something that would help tires last longer and save fuel. In 1965 the very resilient, strong fibre to be called Kevlar was invented and created. It is five times stronger than steel and would go on to be used in bullet proof vests, saving thousands of lives and many other uses.
The Windshield Wiper – Mary Anderson was born in 1866 in Alabama and would become a rancher, a real estate developer and inventor. In the winter of 1902 she made her a trip to New York City. Leaving the train station and taking a trolley on a snowy day the driver had to stop quite frequently in order to wipe snow from the front window. Back home, Mary came up with her invention of the first windshield wiper. It was made up of a squeegee on a spindle attached to the inside of a vehicle. All the driver had to do was pull the handle and the front window would be cleared of snow and rain. She received a patent in 1903 but automobile companies said no, feeling the back and forth movement of the wiper would hamper a driver’s vision. It was more than a decade before auto makers decided to add the windshield wiper to their cars. Cadillac, in 1922, would be the first automobile company to add them as standard equipment on all models.
There are many more products that were invented by women. There is the refrigerator, outer space technology (see the film Hidden Figures), closed circuit television, central heating and the ice cream maker to name a few
Some information in this feature came from Buzz Feed, Hannah Jewell, history.com,Womenyoushouldknow.net,Wikipedia, History Channel