Five things invented by women
Here's a simple challenge: name a famous inventor. Perhaps Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci springs to mind. Or the pioneer of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. But you might be hard-pressed to name many female inventors, even though women are behind some of the most widely used technologies in the modern world.
For example, where would we be without the windscreen wiper? Back on a freezing winter's day in 1902, Mary Anderson was travelling by tram through New York city. Snow was falling, forcing the driver to stop repeatedly and get out to clear it. Each time the door opened, Mary suffered a gust of sub-zero air. She had a brainwave: why not make some kind of a rubber blade that could be operated from inside the vehicle? And that's exactly what she did.
Let's step in from freezing New York for our next invention. The dishwasher dates back even earlier to the 19th Century, and to the dinner parties thrown by a lady called Josephine Cochrane. As a frequent host, she wanted a machine that could wash dishes faster than people. Her response was to develop what was to become the first commercially successful dishwasher. Interestingly, innovation was in her blood: her grandfather had invented the steamboat.
Need something to do while the dishwasher is whirring away? How about a round of Monopoly? One of the most popular board games around, the rules were first drawn up by a lady called Elizabeth Magie, and patented in 1904. Her intention was to create a game to highlight what she saw as the pitfalls of capitalism. It was originally called The Landlord's Game.
To an altogether different kind of innovation: Kevlar is the lightweight fibre used in bulletproof vests. The material is used by millions every day and has saved countless lives. The super tough fabric is also used in objects ranging from gloves to aeroplanes to wind turbines. Incredibly, its strength-to-weight ratio is five times higher than steel. Again, it was invented by a woman, the American chemist Stephanie Kwolek, in 1964.
Finally, one of the most important inventions of the 20th Century must surely be the computer programme. The world of programming is notoriously unbalanced in terms of gender. Men vastly outnumber women, and take home around 30% more pay than their female counterparts on average. But back in the 1940s and 50s, women were at the forefront of this new field. Grace Hopper is credited with inventing the first compiler in 1952, which serves as the bridge between code and the binary ones and zeros understood by computers.
spring to mind
where would we be without…
throw (a party)
in someone's blood