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Kristina Mulina

Assistant to Patent Attorney

03 October 2019

Women-inventors, who have changed the world

At all times, a woman has been usually associated with a preserver of the hearth, and a man, in turn, has been associated with an engine of science and social activity. But, despite this fact, women are known from the history, who have come up with truly fundamental things. Among a large number of the inventions invented by women, not only practical and life-enhancing things, but also technically complex solutions and serious inventions in the field of physics, chemistry and biology are known.

For example, Tabitha Babbitt, often watching the men sawing logs with a special saw with two handles, noticed that, despite the fact that the men were pulling the handle forward and back, the logs were sawn only when the saw was moving forward, and nothing happened to the log at the reverse movement, and the energy spent for the reverse movement was wasted. And in 1810, Babbitt created a prototype of the circular saw, which started to be used in the sawmilling industry some time later.

Famous actress Hedy Lamarr was not only fond of the movie. In 1941, she invented wireless communication. This secret means of communication changed dynamically the broadcast frequency to make it difficult for the enemy to intercept. Thanks to her invention, a lot of ships of the US Navy were saved from the enemy torpedoes, and since 1962, this device has been used in the American torpedoes. So, Hedy Lamarr became a progenitress of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards.

American woman-inventor Josephine Cochrane created the first ever mechanized dishwasher in 1886. It is noteworthy that a prerequisite for the development of the dishwasher was the fact that the utensils from a family porcelain set broke in the course of conventional washing the dishes. It is also worth noting that the device of the American woman-inventor was recognized as a necessary thing in the household only 40 years later.

In 1965, Dr. Stephanie Kwolek invented a synthetic material – polyparaphenylene terephthalamide. This incredibly strong synthetic fiber was originally intended to be used for the manufacture of automobile tires. The fabric was called Kevlar and it became a basis for bulletproof vests, what saved thousands of lives of policemen, firemen and military men. Kevlar also started to be used as the main material for the manufacture of a variety of different items, such as gloves, protective building materials and many other things.

In 1903, Mary Anderson invented the first wipers for the car. The prerequisite for the creation of this device was Mary Anderson's winter trip to New York in 1802, during which she watched in horror how sleet was worsening visibility on the road and preventing safe traffic. The driver was forced to stop the car constantly while driving and to clean the snow from a windshield. What she saw gave her an idea to draw in her diary a simple diagram of a brush cleaner on the outside of the windshield, which was driven by a lever mechanism. Despite the fact that Mary Anderson patented her invention already next year, it gained popularity only a few years later, and it is used up to this day.

            In 1917, American woman Dolores Jones invented an acoustic filter, which is called nowadays an automobile muffler. Since the first cars made a terrible roar during their work, because they were manufactured without the muffler, to be nearby or to travel in such a vehicle was, to put it mildly, not comfortable; Dolores Jones was tired of listening to the roar of car engines and she came up with the muffler, and then saved us from the loud roar of the engine, and the world around us became a little quieter.

In 1942, Zinaida Ermolyeva, an outstanding Soviet scientist-microbiologist and epidemiologist, a creator of antibiotics, one of the founders of the modern domestic microbiology, risking her life, invented penicillin for the first time in Russia. In doing so, she defeated cholera during the Great Patriotic War. And she got nickname Madame Penicillin for his invention.

In 1988, Patricia Bath, the first black ophthalmologist at New York University, patented a device to remove cataracts and to correct myopia. The medical device developed by her made it possible to remove cataracts with the utmost precision and to solve further other ophthalmic problems, including the correction of myopia, which has become a mass and affordable procedure. Patricia Bath is an author of 4 patents in the field of laser surgery.

The merit of isolating a DNA double helix in 1953 belongs to Rosalind Elsie Franklin. She was the first to identify a DNA structure. Many people consider her discovery to be a key scientific achievement of the 20th century, but she has not obtained an official recognition for that discovery. Despite the fact that the decision of the Nobel Committee, which had deprived Rosalind of her share in the premium and had given prominence only to James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, could not be revoked, many people, including Francis Crick, recognized that the X-ray DNA Analysis performed by Franklin was that missing step, which allowed complete visualizing the double helix.

As we can see from the examples described above, women-inventors develop not only some primitive things and the things that simplify the household, but also the technical solutions that are serious and important for the whole mankind. Despite the fact that women's inventiveness was sometimes taken lightly due to the traditions and cultural attitudes of the society and faced the legislative and stereotypical obstacles, the number of the examples of the inventions belonging to women is large. Although the information about many women-inventors and their inventions is sketchy and it is known insufficiently, and the work of women-inventors is underestimated, the examples described above confirm that there are a great many inventions created by women, which changed the world afterwards.

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