10 Women Scientists Who Have Transformed The World With Their Inventions

Last updated 7 Jun 2017 . 5 min read

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Women have contributed significantly when it comes to scientific inventions that have changed the world. Marie Curie is the first—and sometimes the only—name which strikes our mind when we think about women inventors. 

However, one would be surprised to know about the many inventions by women that we use in everyday life. These range from inventions in fields such as manufacturing, computer programming, the automotive industry, and even space and technology.

Here’s a list of some of these pioneering women inventors:

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

The first computer programmer was encouraged by her scientist mother from a young age to pursue her love of mathematics. Ada worked with Charles Babbage at the University of London on his plans for a proposed mechanical general purpose computer. She was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and created the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.

Margaret Knight (1838-1914)

A serial inventor, she created the flat-bottomed paper bag still used in most grocery stores. Knight built a wooden model of the device, but needed a working iron model to apply for a patent. Charles Annan, who was at the machine shop when Knight's iron model was being built, stole her design and patented the device. Knight filed a successful patent interference lawsuit and was awarded the patent in 1871. Her other inventions included a numbering machine, a window frame and sash, and several devices related to rotary engines.

Mary Anderson (1866-1953)

The windshield wipers we now use in our cars were invented by a woman. Inventor Mary Anderson received a patent for her car window cleaning device in 1903. She was also a viticulturist, rancher and real estate developer.

Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898-1979)

The inventor of low reflectance invisible glass, Katharine Blodgett was the first female scientist hired by General Electric. She discovered a way to transfer thin monomolecular coatings to glass and metals and invented a glass that eliminates glare and distortion. It revolutionized cameras, microscopes, eyeglasses and more.

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992)

This American computer scientist is the mother of Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), one of the first high-level programing languages. She also invented the first compiler for a computer programming language. Dr. Hopper also invented the term “debugging” when she had to get moths out of the circuit boards of Harvard’s huge “Mark I” computer.

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)

As the inventor of the spread spectrum technology, the top contender for beauty with brains is unarguably Hedy Lamarr. Better known as an Austrian actress in Hollywood, she became a pioneer in the field of wireless communications. Along with composer George Antheil, she developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that employed a frequency-hopping technology during the second World War. The principles of their work are now incorporated in modern Wi-Fi, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) code-division multiple access (CDMA) method and Bluetooth technology.

Marion Donovan (1917-1988)

The inventor of disposable diapers changed parenting forever when she created the first waterproof disposable diaper named “Boater” with a shower curtain. The invention was patented in 1951. She sold the patent to Keko Corporation. She later created a completely disposable diaper made of paper. The “Pampers” brand of diapers is based on her creations.

Gertrude Belle Elion (1918-1999)

An American biochemist and pharmacologist, Gertrude won the Nobel prize for her contributions to medicine. She patented an array of 45 different drugs and developed the first immunosuppressive drug, azathioprine, used for organ transplants.

Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014)

An American chemist, Stephanie invented Kevlar, a family of synthetic fibers of exceptional strength and stiffness. The material is resistant to wear, corrosion and flames, and is used in the production of bulletproof vests, skis, safety helmets, hiking and camping gear, and suspension bridge cables.

Barbara Askins (1939-present)

While working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA,) this physical chemist invented a new method of developing film using radioactive materials to enhance underexposed photographic negatives. After patenting the invention, her method was put to use by NASA with great success. It was put to a variety of other uses, including improving the clarity of x-rays and restoring old photographs.

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