By Christopher V. | Strong Female Leaders
What if there were no women inventors?
Then young women today would not have positive role models to look up to, progress forward, and push their limits and out of their comfort zones. We'd have less women in STEM fields like Engineering, Research, and Math and Science. We'd have even less women in leadership roles. Lucky for us, we DO have incredible women inventors to look up to. These women inventors have contributed substantial amounts of technical advancements that laid the groundwork for today's most cutting edge industries. We've selected 10 of these women whose inventions helped shape our world for the better:

  • Marie Van Brittan Brown - Home Security
  • Alice Parker - Heating Furnace
  • Josephine Cochrane - Dishwasher
  • Bessie Blount Griffen - Devices To Assist The Disabled
  • Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson - Caller ID
  • Olga D. Gonzalez-Sanabria - Batteries To Power The ISS
  • Stephanie Kwolek - Kevlar
  • Grace Hopper - Computers
  • Maria Telkes - Solar Powered Homes
  • Sarah E. Goode - Cabinet Bed
  • 1) Marie Van Brittan Brown – Home Security
    A hard working nurse in the mid 20th century, Marie Van Brittan Brown found herself alone in her home with her two children quite frequently due to her varied working hours at a local hospital. Around the same time, crime rates in her area began to rise leaving her feeling unsafe in her own home. Rather than cower in fear, Brown took action. This action led to the creation of the modern day security system. Using a camera, she was able to look through the peep hole of the door from another room in the house and decide if she wanted to answer the door or not. With a bit of help from her husband Albert, the first of its kind invention paved the way for keeping families safe in their own homes. Much like Brown, we should all motivate ourselves to make improvements to our everyday lives and innovate.
    2) Alice Parker - Heating Furnace
    Prior to Parker's invention in 1919, all furnaces burned wood and heated a limited amount of space. Parker felt that such heating device is insufficient in its heat production, especially during the rough New Jersey winters that she grew up in. Therefore, Parker invented a furnace that is powered by natural gas, and included ducts that fed heat to other areas of the house. Her invention enabled a practical yet sophisticated system that became the predecessor to modern-day furnaces.
    3) Josephine Cochrane - Dishwasher
    Sick of doing dishes and chipping her China, Josphine Cochrane invented the dishwasher, delighting both herself and thousands of women who also grew weary of slaving at the fore-mentioned common housework. Clever girl.
    4) Bessie Blount Griffin - Devices To Assist The Disabled
    Griffin always had a knack for helping others, hence she began her medical career with nursing. Eventually, her true passion for physical therapy and aiding the disabled surfaced, leading her to attend the Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene in New Jersey, where she obtained a degree in Physical Therapy.

    While practicing her talents at assisting the disabled, Griffin learned that what her patients needed wasn't just physical assistance, but rather a sense of independence and dignity. With this knowledge, she invented a feeding system for those who lost their limbs during World War II. The system allowed amputees to bite down on a tube that released food, allowing them the freedom eat by themselves. Griffin later created several follow up feeding systems that served the same purpose of benefiting the human kind.
    5) Olga D. Gonzalez-Sanabria - Batteries To Power The ISS
    Because space ships burn a substantial amount of fuel, they may not reserve enough to reach the International Space Station. Long lasting batteries, therefore, are required to keep space shuttles well-powered through long trips. These batteries were invented by Dr. Olga D Gonzalez-Sanabria.

    A graduate of the University of Toledo, with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Dr. Gonzalez-Sanabria joined NASA in 1979, and served various leadership roles in the next 30 years of her career in space. She was awarded many medals and honors, including an induction into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame under the category "scientist, inventor and executive".

    6) Stephanie Kwolek - Kevlar
    Law enforcement and the military have a woman to thank for the Kevlar that keeps them safe every day.

    After earning a degree in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University in 1946, Kevlar went on to invent the material Kevlar, commonly known as the bulletproof vest. It has since saved hundreds of lives, deeming it an invaluable defense for the men and women who keep us safe everyday.
    7) Grace Hopper - Computers
    Computers were invented by a woman?

    YOU BET! And not just any woman. She was a Ph.D in Mathematics, a Yale Grad and a Navy Veteran. While still serving in the Navy, Dr. Grace Hopper developed the Mark I computer program which many believe to be the first operational computing system. Computers have since spread their dominating market in the world. Thanks to Dr. Hopper, who led the effort that revolutionized the computing technology, we now conduct our everyday tasks with machines that operate with lightening speed. Best of all, though, we also have an inspiring female role model in the computer industry to look up to.
    8) Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson - Caller ID
    Women love communicating with one another. Dr. Jackson made sure that with her work at Bell Labs, we can communicate even better. Her breakthrough scientific research enabled others to invent the fax machine, touch tone phones, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the underlying technology of caller ID and call waiting. The significance of her research is that they drastically changed the telecommunications industry.

    What's more impressive about Dr. Jackson is that she was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT. After a thriving career in Technology, she now serves in a leadership position, as the the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological research university in the United States. With this role, she has the perfect platform to help others "apply science to the common purposes of life" and to inspire young women to thrive in STEM careers like she did.

    9) Maria Telkes - Solar Powered Homes
    Though solar powered homes are popular now, the first solar powered home was invented in 1948, by the brilliant Maria Telkes.

    Telkes, who graduated from the University of Budapest with a degree in Physical Chemistry in 1920 and earned a Ph.D in the same subject four years later, was the first to integrated solar technology into a home system. Her invention laid the foundation for more powerful and practical solar technology use, all of which leads to a bright future for the sustainable energy industry.
    10) Sarah E. Goode - Cabinet Bed
    City dwellers who live in small quarters love the Cabinet Bed, because it is a huge space savor. Thanks to Sarah E. Goode, who housed six children of her own, and turned her dilemma of needing space into a useful invention. Families that live in small homes can now create the space they need by folding up their beds. We like that idea!

    What else makes Sarah E. Goode special? Because of her ingenuity, she became the first African American woman to receive a U.S. patent. Now that's a fact that women of all colors should be proud of.
    Final Thoughts
    Even though history often overlooks the things invented by women, and undermines the brilliant women inventors themselves, a road has indeed been paved to lead young women of the future to thrive in STEM and create more life-changing innovations. As we honor the women inventors of the past, we picture a better and more open culture for women in the future. At last, we look forward to seeing, learning about, and advocating more inventions made by women.

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