10 Famous Things You Didn’t Know Were Made by Women

In celebration of Women’s History Month, just imagine how much more dangerous, inconvenient or simply less fun life would be without the following things –†that were all invented by females.

1. Windshield Wipers

When Mary Anderson saw that New York City streetcar drivers had to open the windows and poke their heads outside to see during a storm, a virtual light bulb appeared above her head. She invented windshield wipers that were operated manually from inside automobiles, and patented them in 1905. Eleven years later, another woman, Charlotte Bridgwood, patented the first automatic windshield wipers.

2. Bulletproof Vests

The main material in bulletproof vests is Kevlar, a synthetic that is flame resistant and five times stronger than steel. It was invented in the early 1970s by Stephanie Kwolek, one of the first women research chemists, who discovered a liquid crystalline polymer solution that was exceptionally strong and stiff. Kevlar is also found in safety helmets, suspension bridge cables and other items.

3. Life Rafts

Weary†of hearing about people drowning at sea, Maria Beasley†designed and patented a life raft that was “fire-proof, compact, safe and readily-launched” in 1880. Her†life raft had safety features like guard railings and metal floats, and it†could be folded to save space on ships. Beasley later made a fortune with another of her inventions: a machine that made wooden barrels.

Photo credit: U.S. Patent Office

Photo credit: U.S. Patent Office

4. Wireless Communications

You may be surprised to know that a pioneer of wireless “spread spectrum” technology, which is used today in cellphones, computers and other telecommunications devices, was Hedy Lamarr, an actress called “the most beautiful girl in the world.” During World War II, she helped develop a secret communications system that manipulated radio frequencies, preventing classified messages from being intercepted by enemy troops.

5. Coffee Filters

Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, got tired of the grainy, bitter coffee that resulted from brewing a cloth bag filled with coffee grounds in boiling water. In the early 1900s, she punched holes in the bottom of a brass pot, covered the holes†with a piece of paper and placed it†on a cup filled with ground coffee. She then poured hot water in the pot, creating the first drip coffee system. Bentz patented her coffee filter in 1908, and 108†years later, the Melitta brand is still sold worldwide.

6. Bras

It’s not all that surprising that a woman — who was fed up with the pinching discomfort of corsets — invented this undergarment. Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite in the early 20th century, devised a comfy alternative using two handkerchiefs sewn together using ribbon and a cord. When her female family members and friends began asking for their own, Jacob patented what she called the “backless brassiere” and sold them under her new name, Caresse Crosby.

Photo credit:  U.S. Patent Office

Photo credit: U.S. Patent Office

7. Typewriter Correction Fluid

Way back in the 20th century, before everyone had a home computer, you had to use a typewriter to create printed†documents. And if you made a mistake, there was no Delete key –†you had to manually erase it. A convenient way to do this was with Liquid Paper†correction fluid,†a product invented in the 1950s by Bette Nesmith Graham (who happens to be not only the mother of this invention, but also the mother of Michael Nesmith of The Monkees).

8. Ice Cream Makers

I wouldn’t scream, you wouldn’t scream and we all probably wouldn’t scream for ice cream if it wasn’t for Nancy Johnson. In 1843, she invented an ice cream maker that is still used today. Instead of freezing cream in a pot, Johnson patented an automatic freezer consisting of a tub, cylinder, lid, dasher and crank. Now, that’s something to scream†about!

Photo credit: U.S. Patent Office

Photo credit: U.S. Patent Office

9. Barbie Dolls

Based on†her ridiculous proportions, you might think the world-famous Barbie doll was created by a man. But no, it was invented in 1959 by Ruth Handler, who named it after her daughter, Barbara. (Ken was named after her son.) Handler noticed Barbara and her friends pretending their paper dolls were teenagers, so she came up with the idea of a three-dimensional, grown-up doll. Later in her life, Handler, a breast cancer survivor, created “Nearly Me” realistic-looking breast prostheses.

10. Monopoly

You may have heard that this classic board game was created in the 1930s by Charles Darrow, an unemployed man. Not exactly. It was invented by Elizabeth Magie, who called it The Landlord’s Game and considered†it a protest against Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and other famous monopolists. Darrow later stole her idea and sold it to Parker Brothers, making hundreds of millions of dollars. Think about that the next time you pass Go.

Photo credit:  Lucius Kwok

Photo credit: Lucius Kwok

Photo credit: Tina Franklin

239 comments

Jim V
Jim V4 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jim V
Jim V4 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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william Miller
william Miller6 months ago

thanks

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Latonya W.
Latonya Wabout a year ago

Nice...Im PROUD

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Virginia Belder
Virginia Belderabout a year ago

Ty...

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

Thanks. We have to remember Madam Currie too.

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CLAUDE Hennie
CLAUDE Hennieabout a year ago

Great !
I would say, with a strange kind of humor : "Yes, we can" !
Sorry ! lol !

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Teresa Antela
Teresa Antelaabout a year ago

Women can and do everything they put in their minds. We are so intelligent, clever and determined as men and have something else: the sixth sense and a "connaissance" of feelings men do not have. Perhaps this is why we give to birth and men can't, at least, up to date.

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Amanda M.
Amanda Mabout a year ago

Judie B, that reminds me of a time when I had a tire blow out on the way home from work (damned potholes!). I was working as a security guard at the time, and apparently my car looked enough like a disabled vehicle to attract the attention of a pair of county sheriff's deputies, who pulled over. Since I was already in the middle of changing the tire and it was getting dark (I had to learn to fix and maintain a car before I could learn to drive one-parents' rules!), when one of them asked me if there was anything he could do to help, my reply was "Yeah, turn on your flashlight so I can see what I'm doing better!" I've helped other people with blowouts more than once, and it impressed an elderly guy once when he saw me handle the tire change like it was nothing. And the truth is that we women do far more work than men do, especially around the house. Sadly, that work is still discounted and not considered worthy of pay, despite the fact that when outsourced to other people, our jobs are worth six figures when added up! I once made a list of the chores I do vs. the chores my husband does, and mine outnumber his by a ratio of 24 to 6! And they call us "the weaker sex!" HAH!

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