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.
Dishwasher - 1886
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®.
Windshield Wipers - 1903
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.
Waterproof Diaper Cover - 1951
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
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.
Kevlar® Fibers - 1974
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.
Propulsion System - 1974
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.
Self-Cleaning House - 1984
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.
Spanx® Footless Pantyhose - 2001
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.