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10 Women Inventors You Didn’t Know Existed

Women have been the backbone of American history and have often been forgotten or neglected for their part in some of the most important inventions of their time.

In honor of all the inspiring women from our history here’s a list of some of the most influential women on our everyday lives and their inventions.


1. Windshield Wipers

Mary Anderson was driving in New York City when she realized that people couldn’t see in the rain unless they stuck their heads out of the window. So, in 1903 she developed the windshield wipers which originally required the driver to use a lever but in 1917 ANOTHER woman patented the first automatic windshield wiper.


2. Modern hair brush

Lyda Newman was an African American inventor in the 19th century who patented the first hair brush that used synthetic, rather than animal hair, bristles. The brush also removed any impurities or filth collecting when combing one’s hair that could be thrown away.


3. New Brassiere

If you like painful rods and whale bones poking into your body then you can ignore the invention of a new bra where fabric is the main component. Mary Phelps Jacob and her maid decided they had had enough with pain from these contraptions and sewed some fabric together to create the modern wireless bra we know and love.


4. Caller ID

Dr. Shirley Jackson was the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT which allowed her to make advancements in telecommunications as a theoretical physicist. Her discoveries led to the invention of the portable fax machine, touch tone phones, caller id and much more. So next time you’re ignoring your S.O. remember Dr. Shirley Jackson made it all possible.


5. Dishwasher

Josephine Cochrane and her family loved to throw dinner parties but Cochrane didn’t love doing the dirty work the next morning. After having decided she was done handwashing all of her dishes she went to the library to begin work on the first dishwasher. She was able to complete the machine but worked diligently to secure a patent since the men of her time refused to accept her for being an inventor. She went on to sell her mechanical dishwasher to many hotels and restaurants eventually entering American homes.


6. Computer Programming

After having received a B.A. in math and physics then a Ph.D. from Yale in math and joining the navy only to become a lieutenant, Dr. Grace Murray Hopper worked on the first large-scale commercial computer. She then went on to lead her team to create the first common business language on a computer which allowed for data processing and eventually led to many other computer programmings to be created.


7. Fire Escape

Anna Connelly and many other women took the fires in city factories very seriously and when the city required buildings to have a means of escaping for its occupants these women went to work. Anna Connelly invented a bridge that took people from one rooftop of a building to another and allowed for them to escape through that building. Her invention led to the current steel fire escape stairs we have on many buildings throughout major cities.


8. Car Heater

Margaret A. Wilcox was a female mechanical engineer, a rarity of her time, who was known to be fascinated with inventing. She invented the first car heater by allowing air to flow through the engine and heat up with the hands of the driver. It was a precedent of the modern car heater we have in every car today.


9. Electric Refrigerator

In 1914, Florence Parpart received her second patent for her invention of the electric refrigerator which allowed for the ice box to be removed and replaced with electricity. She marketed and invented her own refrigerator which allowed for its success and utility in the invention of our modern refrigerators.


10. Central Heating

Alice Parker was an African American inventor in the early 20th century who created a gas heating furnace to replace the traditional wood burning one of the time. She decided to use air pipes to pump heat throughout the home. This invention allowed for the later creation and innovation of central heating.


Power to these women who helped shape inventions we see today! What will you invent Collegiettes?

Hi! I'm an aspiring writer working on her Mass Communications degree at Winthrop University! I write for multiple publications on campus and am so excited to be a part of this wonderful team with an amazing group of girls!
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