Celebrating Women Inventors

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As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s take a minute and celebrate the contributions of some female inventors and what led to those innovations.

Josephine Cochran

Dishwasher - 1886

Josephine Cochran, Dishwasher, 355,139

U.S. Patent No. 355, 139

Josephine Cochran, frustrated by the time it took to wash dishes after entertaining and the amount of dishes that were broken during washing, built a machine that would do both. She founded a company to manufacture her dishwasher, which eventually became KitchenAid®.

Mary Anderson

Windshield Wipers - 1903

Mary Anderson, Windshield Wipers, 743,801

U.S. Patent No. 743,801

Mary Anderson's invention was apparently conceived during a trip to New York City as she watched streetcar drivers opening the windows of their cars when it rained so that they could see. When she returned home to Alabama, she devised a swinging arm device with a blade made from rubber that could be controlled with a lever from within the vehicle.

Marion Donovan

Waterproof Diaper Cover - 1951

Marion Donovan, Waterproof Diaper Cover, 2,556,800

U.S. Patent No. 2,556,800

Marion Donovan first invented a diaper cover after getting tired of the cloth diapers leaking after her children’s naps. She next turned to a diaper solution that would do away with the need to do so much laundry – what we know today as disposable diapers.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

Home Security System - 1969

Marie Van Brittan Brown, Home Security System, 3,482,037

U.S. Patent No. 3,482,037

According to numerous reports, Marie Van Brittan Brown felt unsafe in her neighborhood and thought police were slow to respond to emergency calls. So she invented a way to see and hear who was at the door from any room in the house.

Stephanie Kwolek

Kevlar® Fibers - 1974

Stephanie Kwolek, Kevlar Fibers, 3,819,587

U.S. Patent No. 3,819,587

Stephanie Kwolek’s invention was born out of an assignment from her employer, DuPont, to find the next generation of fibers that could withstand extreme conditions for use in tires. She spun a cloudy liquid crystalline solution into fibers that were so strong not even steel bullets could penetrate them.

Yvonne Brill

Propulsion System - 1974

Yvonne Brill, Propulsion System, 3,807,657

U.S. Patent No. 3,807,657

Yvonne Brill’s propulsion system helps keep communication satellites from slipping out of their orbits and remains the industry standard for unmanned spacecraft. Brill is believed to have been the only woman in the U.S. performing rocket science in the mid-1940s, when she worked on the first designs for an American satellite.

Frances Gabe

Self-Cleaning House - 1984

Frances Gabe, Self-Cleaning House, 4,428,085

U.S. Patent No. 4,428,085

Rumor has it that Frances Gabe reached her limit when she spotted a bit of jelly on a wall and decided that it was time to create a house that would clean itself.

Sara Blakely

Spanx® Footless Pantyhose - 2001

Sara Blakely, Spanx, 6,276,176

U.S. Patent No. 6,276,176

According www.spanx.com, Sara Blakely conceived of her invention after realizing that she did not have any undergarments to make her white pants look smooth. She apparently cut the feet from her control top pantyhose and began her quest to refine her idea.