Women inventors may have had limited opportunities to showcase their abilities. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t left their mark in history. Some of these brilliant minds have imagined, made discoveries, and invented things that have made life better for us.
Let’s look at the top women inventors responsible for some of the things we use every day.
Here’s what you’ll learn about:
- Six remarkable women inventors
- Famous inventions by women
- Other inventions you might not know were by women
6 of the Most Important Women Inventors
Here are six of the greatest female inventors who deserve recognition.
1. Dr. Shirley Jackson (1946-)
Dr. Shirley Jackson is the first Black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research in telecommunication led to the invention of technology such as fiber optic cables.
She is also a leading developer of call waiting and caller ID on mobile phones.
Jackson was inducted into the Women in Technology International Foundation (WITI) Hall of Fame in June 2000. WITI recognizes women in tech and scientists with exceptional achievements.
2. Nancy Johnson (1794-1890)
Thanks to Nancy Johnson, you no longer need to spend hours manually stirring the mixture to make your favorite ice cream flavor.
Johnson invented a machine that could scrape ice from the container walls using hand-cranked blades. This made it easier and faster for anyone to make ice cream. Before her invention, ice cream was a luxury only for the upper class.
3. Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
But do you know one of the top people behind modern computer coding?
Meet Grace Hopper. She ranks among the top American computer programming pioneers of all time. She developed an interest in computer science when programs still used numerical code.
Hopper innovated the first computer language compiler in 1952. She also co-invented the COBOL computer language, which is the first universal programming language.
4. Patricia Era Bath (1942-2019)
Patricia Bath is the first African-American woman to receive a patent for medical innovation as an ophthalmologist. In 1981, she invented and received a patent for a medical device called a Laserphaco probe.
The medical device uses a laser to dissolve cataracts in the eye quickly and painlessly. It then sprays and cleans the eye, which makes inserting a replacement lens much more effortless.
The Laserphaco probe is now an internationally safe way to remove cataracts that could cause blindness.
5. Ruth Handler (1916-2002)
With her husband Eliot, Ruth Handler founded Mattel, the world’s largest toy company. In 1959, Ruth invented and introduced the Barbara Millicent Roberts “Barbie” doll.
Barbie is an icon with an ever-changing wardrobe and career.
Handler had noted the limitations of the paper doll as her daughter made imaginary figures of adult women. The doll represents women’s changing dreams and aspirations. Barbie has been almost everything, from a computer engineer to a rock star to an astronaut.
Parents can now inspire their kids’ careers with Barbie dolls, thanks to Ruth Handler’s life-changing invention.
6. Esther Takeuchi (1942-)
Esther Takeuchi is a materials scientist and chemical engineer who was awarded for inventing the silver vanadium oxide (SVO) battery. These are the dominant batteries used to power implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).
Before her invention, patients could go through surgery every year to replace the device. Takeuchi’s SVO batteries can last up to five years.
Inventions and Innovations You Might Not Have Known Were by Women
Medicine has often been a productive area for women. Gertrude B. Elion is one of the greatest cancer medication pioneers, and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi contributed to the discovery of HIV.
You might know Florence Nightingale was a nurse, but she also innovated the use of data visualization.
Kevlar, a material used in bulletproof vests, was invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1965. You might also be interested to note your car windshield wiper is an invention by Mary Anderson from 1903.
A lot of clothing and homemaking innovations were by women.
Think about it.
Traditionally, these were among the only domains women had access to.
Josephine Cochrane created the dishwasher in 1886. Lillian Moller Gilbreth had dozens of inventions, including shelving for refrigerators and the foot pedal dustbin.
Who did we miss? If you have a favorite female innovator you think we should have mentioned, drop us a comment @bluehost.