Yes, when it comes to inventions, men seem to get all the credit. Alexander Graham Bell, The Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and the list goes on and on. Well, there are quite a few women in history who have come up with useful inventions as well. Here’s a good opportunity for all the ladies to bask in the knowledge of some things that were invented by women.
#1 Paper bag
Think of how activities like grocery shopping were improved by the invention of the paper bag. Putting all those items from the market in a box or some other rigid container would have made them much more difficult to transport in the car, or even carry home on the street. A cotton mill worker named Margaret Knight invented a machine to revolutionize the paper bag by making them flat with a square bottom way back in 1868.
Considering all the safety devices that have been made with this super strong material (including bullet-proof vests for police), a great many lives have likely been saved by this invention. The patent for this amazing material was granted in 1966 when chemist Stephanie Kwolek came up with the formula for Kevlar back in 1966 while working to improve fiber for use in automobile tires.
It would probably be nearly impossible to account for all the hours people have enjoyed playing this legendary board game. It was originally called The Landlord’s Game back in 1904 when it was patented, and later became known as Monopoly when Charles Darrow reworked the idea and sold it to Parker Brothers some 30 years later.
#4 Windshield wipers
Although it’s hard to believe, drivers back in 1903 thought it would be safer to drive with rain or snow obscuring their vision than to periodically activate a lever to operate manual windshield wipers. Mary Anderson’s original invention was improved upon by another female inventor in 1917 who came up with a roller-operated automatic version. Still, it took until 1920 before automobile makers realized their benefits, and Cadillac began including them with every car they produced.
#5 Disposable diapers
You don’t have to dwell on it too long to see how this one makes perfect sense. Let’s face it, when it comes to diapers, it’s the women that traditionally had to deal with one of the darker sides of child rearing most of the time. Marion Donovan’s idea was to make clean-up a bit easier by covering the diaper with part of a shower curtain for her initial design. Donovan hit the jackpot when she sold her idea to Keko Corporation for a cool $1 million. A few years later she came up with the entirely disposable version.
Here again we have a woman that came up with a brilliant idea to help make what many considered a “woman’s job” a whole lot easier. Believe it or not, the dishwasher was first patented back in 1886 after Josephine Cochrane came up with the idea by combining a wire rack, a boiler, a wheel and high pressure water.
#7 Liquid paper
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and we’re beginning to see how various problems that were most often encountered by women were solved by enterprising women who knew there had to be a better way. Since typists were once mostly women, it should not be surprising that a woman named Bette Nesmith Graham corrected her typing mistakes by covering them with white tempera paint. After toiling in her kitchen to perfect the formula, she patented Liquid Paper in 1958. She later sold her company to Gillette in 1979 for a whopping $47.5 million!
#8 Circular saw
This one is a departure from some of the inventions we might think as benefiting women more than men. What’s more manly that a fierce, screaming circular saw tearing through wood? Well, a lot of things, but you get the idea. After Tabitha Babbitt observed lumber workers using the old two-man saw she thought making the blade circular would be a better idea. She played with the idea herself by making her own circular blade and attaching it to her spinning wheel! Unfortunately, the Shaker community she was a part of did not approve of the idea of applying for a patent, but they were quick to use her invention to make things easier for themselves.
When 3M chemist Patsy Sherman was working in the lab during 1952, she noticed something peculiar. When a bit of fluorochemical rubber spilled onto a co-workers shoe, it would not come off, and also did not change the color of the shoe where it landed. It was noted that the area that was affected was then able to repel water, oil and other liquids without damaging the material. After teaming up with fellow inventor Samuel Smith, her work ultimately became known as Scotchguard.