Since we love technology and got interested in the education behind computer science and engineering and since in the 8th of March many countries and cultures around the world celebrate Woman’s Day, we thought it is a good idea to celebrate some very special ladies who blessed humanity with their presence and their incredible talents and brilliant minds. We will take a closer look into female inventors, as there is this misleading prejudice that this world’s great inventors and hard science geniuses were men. Perhaps there were more men, but when it comes to hard science items that were invented by women, you would be surprised how “non-girly” these items are. Moreover, some of these items you would associate with men are still used and developed today. Yes, it was a woman who invented the disposable baby diaper, but it was also a woman who designed the first computer. So in order to celebrate talent, brilliance and amazing ideas, let’s take a look over 10 hard science items that were invented by women and let’s applause all of these visionary ladies.
10. The solar powered house
Green technology evolution owes a lot to Hungarian biophysicist Maria Telkes who invented a thermoelectric power generator and thus the first 100% solar powered house. She managed to remain in history as a pioneer in alternative energy and now, if you use solar panels and store sun energy during less sunny seasons, it’s all because of her.
9. The dishwasher
Well, the dishwasher came as a “womanish” need and was invented by a woman by the name of Josephine Cochrane who patented this complicated contraption back in 1886. Well, back in the day it was a complicated contraption but it took a brilliant woman to put 2 and 2 together and go down in history as women’s best friend.
8. Ships signal flares
If you ever went on a ship, you know that in times of trouble and for communication purposes signal flares are the best means to reach your goals. Granted, Mrs. Martha Coston wasn’t the true inventor of signal flares, but her late husband whose notes and papers she used to work for 10 years in order to see the product take shape and be patented.
7. The circular saw
Tabitha Babbitt lived in the 1800’s and was a Shaker. And apparently a smart one, as she invented the circular saw (attached back then to a spinning wheel) as opposed to the traditional sawing technique involving two men, a saw and a very tiring pulling forward – pushing back routine. She didn’t get her invention patented, but we owe her our full respects for having a simple, but brilliant idea.
6. The folding cabinet bed
Homes apparently were pretty small also in the 1885, a situation which pushed Sarah E. Goode to invent the folding cabinet bed, making her thus not only the first African-American woman getting a U.S. patent, but also solved a lot of problems related to small spaces and which stood the test of time, being successfully used even today in personal and commercial purposes.
5. Free of glare and distortion glass – or invisible glass
We are in the 1930s and we have General Electric’s first female scientist Katharine Blodgett who managed to discover a way of making invisible glass – with applications to camera and microscope lenses, eyeglasses, eye contacts and so on. Adding a coating to glass and metal put Katherine on the list of some of the greatest female inventors of all times.
4. Windshield wipers
You’d think that men were the ones who invented everything that was to be invented in the realm of cars and vehicles, but there were two ladies we should commemorate today when we push a button to clean our windshields of rain, snow and dirt: Mary Anderson, who invented back in 1903 a manually windshield wiping system and Charlotte Bridgwood who added a motor running to the wipers, but none of the ideas caught on to the general public. But you can’t imagine now driving a car without windshield wipers and even if Cadillac was the first company to put them on all car models, the car industry owes an apology to Mary Anderson for not believing in her genius.
Kevlar is synonym with bullet proof and there is no armed force in this world not to wear Kevlar vests in times of trouble. Chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented this material by accident, while she was trying to develop something else, but Kevlar was patented in 1966 and all police officers and other combatants in the world should thanks Stephanie for designing a material that will let them survive after taking a bullet.
2. Submarine telescope and lamp
The year of 1845 was a good one, technologically speaking. Even if there is few data on the personal life of female inventor Sarah Mather, her legacy speaks for herself and in her stead. Among the hard science items that were invented by women, this is the second most spectacular one, as it changed and shaped the world as we know it.
1. The Computer, the Compiler and the COBOL
No offense to Alan Turing, Bill Gates or other male masterminds in the world of computers, but if we do own computers right now, we owe them to Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who co-designed the Harvard’s Mark I computer (a five ton machine the size of a living room), the Compiler – a way to translate English into computer code and COBOL, one of the first programming languages in the world. And we are talking about the 1940 – 1960 era.
There are a few more hard science items invented by women, some with huge technological impact over humanity, others with a smaller one, but still life changing and game changing. These ladies should never be forgotten and their legacy should always be respected and celebrated.