Women who changed our lives

Women who changed our lives

Women who changed our lives

It’s a common assumption that most social inventions are due to the relentless effort and genius of men. Usha S debunks the sexist notion.

A woman’s involvement in the society is always a good thing. Here are some women inventors, who developed indigenous, utility-oriented concepts for our everyday lives. Their accomplishments are worth remembering:

Mary Anderson

At a time when cars were not that common, an American businesswoman came up with an idea that continues to serve drivers even after a century. Mary Anderson’s invention has made millions of automobile drivers feel at ease, while driving under harsh conditions. The importance of the Windshield Wiper doesn’t need to be stated, especially while driving on dusty terrains or during the rains.

Bette Nesmith Graham

Correction fluid or the white fluid was a common stationery used by typists, for many decades, before the advent of advanced electronic typewriter/computers. Even though manual typing has faded, this white fluid is still in use where some hand-written records are made. Bette Nesmith Graham was a typist, who also liked to piant. 

Frustrated by the errors while typing, she used her painting knowledge to develop tempered water-based paint and water-colour, better known as first correction fluid. She is also the inventor of ‘liquid paper’. 

Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek was a Polish-American chemist, who invented poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, popularly known ‘Kevlar’. Her search for a light-weight and strong-fibre material that can be used in tyres resulted in the preparation of a solution, which was cloudy, opalescent after stirring, and of low viscosity. This new fibre did not break, unlike typical nylon. Kevlar is now popularly used in ordinary bicycles and airplanes to tennis rackets and body armour. Every soldier/cop who has survived dangerous combat situations owes their life to this lady’s invention.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was a popular Austrian actress. Along with composer George Antheil, she invented an early technique for spread-spectrum communication and frequency hopping. This is very much a necessity for wireless communication from pre-computer age. The idea, developed in 1942, intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. This frequency-hopping idea is now very much a part of our modern-day means of communication. 

Martha Coston

Martha Coston was working on her late husband’s project, when she came up with a practical signaling system using flares. Using her limited knowledge in chemistry and pyrotechnology, the American worked for decades and developed a pyrotechnic night signal. This has been in use in every US life-saving service and is known as ‘Coston Flare’. This is used to warn ships of dangerous coastal conditions and summon surf men and other rescuers to a wreck scene.

Anna Connelly

Anna Connelly created the first fire escape with external stairs. Today’s technology in fire escapes in large and high-rise buildings need to salute this lady for her invention in this life-saving achievement!

Josephine Cochrane

It is funny that the modern kitchen appliance, dishwasher, is the brainchild of a rich woman who never cooked, let alone wash the dishes. Josephene Cochrane invented a wheel-based copper boiler and made compartments to keep the utensils. A motor turned the wheel, while hot soapy-water squirted up from the bottom of the boiler. 

Marion Donovan

Marion Donovan is an American entrepreneur who solved the problem of smelling babies to “check for poop”. Observing her own daughter’s baby’s frequent bed wetting, she planned a permanent solution for the same. Marion used a shower curtain embedded with cotton clothes and, eureka, she made the first disposable diaper!

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