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Women Inventors You Probably Didn’t Know About

  • IWB Post
  •  June 9, 2015


We only have read and talked about male scientists since our childhood, but less do we know about any female scientist. After thinking hard we might recall the name of Madame Curie, but do you know, there are hundreds of women researchers who were never really  recognized for their contribution in the field of research and development. Let’s learn about few of them today:

1. Elizabeth Magie – Monopoly1

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.

2. Margaret Knight –  Safety Device For Textile Looms2

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.

3. Nancy Johnson – The Ice Cream Maker3

She patented the ice-cream maker design in 1843 and we cannot thank her enough!

4. Grace Hopper – Harvard’s Mark I Computer4

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!

5. Melitta Bentz – Modern Day Coffee Brewing Method. 5

Her brilliant method got her a patented coffee filter system in 1908, after which she founded a business that still exists.

6. Marie Curie – Theory Of Radioactivity6

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.

7. Caresse Crosby – Backless Brassiere a.k.a. Bras7

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 House8

After conceiving the Dover House with her architect colleague, Eleanor Raymond, she designed the thermoelectric power generator to induce heat in the invention.

9. Rosalind Franklin – DNA Double Helix9

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.

10.  Ann Tsukamoto – Stem Cell Isolation10

Stem cell isolation has actually helped in advancing medical research to find cures for diseases like cancer!

11. Katharine Burr Blodgett – Non-Reflective Glass11

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 Raft12

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.

13. Stephanie Kwolek – Kevlar, A Light Synthetic Fibre13

Kevlar  is five times stronger than steel and is used in bicycle tires, racing sails, body armour, frying pans, musical instruments and building construction!

14.  Dr Shirley Jackson – Research Behind Major Inventions In Telecommunications. 14

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.

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