Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the Worl…


Female inventors, scientists, and engineers have discovered countless revolutionary and life-changing inventions that have caused unprecedented breakthroughs in the history of the world.

A closer look at the history is enough to show us that women’s achievements have often been overlooked when it comes to handing out praise and recognition. Sadly, even in our days we often find that sometimes this can still be true.

Shaming, corruption, and painful socio-cultural eras in human history have caused some of those inventions and names of their inventors to remain without proper recognition, unable to come out to daylight.

For a long time, some female inventors have been forgotten and their inventions attributed to men. It’s about time we recognize the value that these incredible women in history have brought to science and other disciplines.     

Here we pay tribute to some of the most courageous, innovative, and determined genius female inventors while we walk through their remarkable discoveries and try to imagine how hard it was for them at times. They have all impacted the world with their inventions, making our lives better.

Through their accomplishments, struggles, motivational and inspirational personal stories they have shown us how much more can be accomplished if only we persevere and don’t give up, and be focused on following our dreams.  

1. Female Inventor Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer, discoverer of several comets, including the periodic comet 35P/Herschel–Rigollet

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: M.F. Tielemanm/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer

Caroline Lucretia Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet. 

Caroline L. Herschel was born on March 16, 1750, Hanover, Germany. She was one of six children of Isaac Herschel, a talented musician of his time. Mr. Herschel encouraged his children to train in mathematics, French, and music.

In contrast, Caroline’s mother did not see the point for a girl to become educated. Much to her benefit, she preferred to make Caroline a house servant for rest of the family.

Unfortunately, at the age of ten, Caroline was stricken with typhus. Sadly, the disease permanently stunted her growth. Caroline never grew past her height of four feet and three inches.  

Thinking about their own convenience, Caroline’s selfish parents advised young Caroline that she would never marry but would live her life as an old maid. Her father, who thought he knew anything about the beauty of a human being, believed Caroline was not handsome enough for a man to ever have an interest in her. In her parent’s view, there was no brilliant future in the life of young Caroline other than being a servant to them.

Until the age of twenty-two, Caroline remained serving in her parents’ home. It was then when her brother, William Herschel, took Caroline to live with him in Bath, England. Caroline became her brother’s housekeeper.

The career of Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer

In 1782, Caroline began taking notes on her first record book. On the first three opening pages, she wrote: “This is what I call the Bills & Recs.ds of my Comets,” “Comets and Letters,” and “Books of Observations.” This and two subsequent books, currently belong to the Herschel trove at the Royal Astronomical Society in London, England. 

In 1783, Caroline made her first discovery: A nebula that was not included in the Messier catalog. That same night, Caroline independently discovered Messier 110 (NGC 205), the second companion of the Andromeda Galaxy.

In 1783, William finished building Caroline a comet-searching telescope. During the same year, the Herschels used a 20-foot reflecting telescope to search for nebulae. In the beginning, William attempted to both observe and record objects. This was inefficient, so Caroline sat by a window inside, William shouted his observations, and Caroline recorded.

Caroline used John Flamsteed‘s catalog to identify the star William used as a reference point for the nebulae. But because Flamsteed’s catalog was organized by constellation, it was less useful to the Herschels. Caroline then created her own catalog organized by north polar distance. Caroline would go over her notes and write formal observations, which she called minding the heavens.

Caroline contributed significantly to the field of astronomy. Together with her brother William, Caroline discovered over 2400 astronomical objects over twenty years.

Inventions and Discoveries of Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer

Caroline frequently used a small Newtonian sweeper that was gifted by her brother William to study the sky on her own. On February 26, 1783, Caroline discovered an open cluster known today as NGC 2360.

Later on, she went on to discover and catalog 14 new nebulae, a low-density cloud of gas and dust in which a star is born, including NGC 205, the companion to the Andromeda Galaxy.

This was Caroline’s first accomplishment and first experience in mathematics.

Caroline calculated the positions of her brother’s and her own discoveries and combined them into a publication. An interesting fact is that she never learned the multiplication tables. She used to carry a table on a sheet of paper in her pocket.

Discovery of Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer – Comets

Caroline’s brother William gave her a small telescope with which she started hunting for comets. This was the main focus of many astronomers. Between 1786 and 1797 Caroline discovered eight comets. In subsequent years, Caroline devoted her time to catalog every discovery she and her brother William had made.

Caroline Herschel’s Relationship with His Brother William Herschel – German scientist, astronomer

“My dear nephew was only in his sixth year when I came to be detached from the family circle. But this did not hinder John and I from remaining the most affectionate friends, and many a half or whole holiday he was allowed to spend with me, was dedicated to making experiments in chemistry, where generally all boxes, tops of tea-canisters, pepper-boxes, teacups served for the necessary vessels, and the sand-tub furnished the matter to be analysed. I only had to take care to exclude water, which would have produced havoc on my carpet.” – Caroline Lucretia Herschel

William felt sympathy for his sister. When he moved to Bath, England, he needed a housekeeper so he took her with him. An accomplished professional musician and a chorus director, William gave Caroline voice lessons, she became the most prominent soprano in Bath.

Astronomy was a hobby for William, something that he supported with all his spare time. He created powerful telescopes flourishing in England as a great telescope maker.

King George III gave William a pension so William could quit his job as conductor and focus on astronomy and the production of fine telescopes.

At first, Caroline did not share her brother’s passion for the science. William started training her in mathematics.

After a while, Caroline began to help William with his telescope business. In the beginning, she only spent long hours grinding and polishing the mirrors they used to collect light from distant objects. Soon she became more and more interested in telescopes and astronomy, and at the age of 32, Caroline became William’s apprentice.

Often, when William would leave on business, Caroline would take over in his place. Quickly visitors to the shop began to recognize her authority. King George III then gave her a pension of fifty pounds. This was the very first time that a woman was recognized for a scientific position and on her own merit.

In 1781, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, he was subsequently knighted and appointed court astronomer to King George III.

The King was an extensive patron of William’s work. In an occasion, King George III commissioned a huge telescope from William and sent William to travel to Germany to give the telescope to the University of Gottingen as a gift.

During William’s visit to Germany, Caroline had her first big breakthrough: she discovered a comet. The account of Caroline’s discovery is found in a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 86, (1796), pp. 131-134.

When William married, he spent less time at the observatory. Caroline, although grieving for her lost friend and partner, carried on her work as a prominent astronomer. Before William’s death, Caroline found seven more comets. When William died, Caroline finished her career as an observational astronomer.

Then Caroline returned to Hanover and lived with her younger brother, Dietrich. Before Caroline’s death, she cataloged every discovery that she and William had made. She sent the records to the scientific community in England. After this, they proclaimed her an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Irish Academy. Germany honored Caroline as well.

Death of Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer

Caroline herself wrote the poetic inscription that reads on her tombstone: “The eyes of her, who is glorified here below, turned to the starry heavens.” – Caroline L. Herschel

Caroline Herschel died on January 9, 1848. She was 98. 

Awards and Honors of Caroline Herschel – German scientist, astronomer

Up to this date, two of the astronomical catalogs published by Caroline Herschel is still in use. On the celebration of her ninety-sixth birthday, Caroline was awarded the King of Prussia’s Gold Medal of Science for her lifelong achievements. It was an honor to be seen with Caroline in public.

Caroline was the first woman who was officially recognized in a scientific position. She was also the first woman to receive honorary membership into Britain’s prestigious Royal Society.

Several of the comets that Caroline Lucretia Herschel discovered during her lifetime bear her name. The lunar crater C. Herschel and the asteroid Lucretia were named after her. 

2. Female Inventor Jeanne Villepreux-Power – Female French Marine Biologist, inventor of aquarium

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: André-Adolphe-Eugène_Disdéri/Wikipedia


Biography (Life) of Jeanne Villepreux-Power – Female French scientist, marine biologist, inventor

Jeanne Villepreux-Power was a 19th-century French naturalist and marine biologist. In marine biology circles, Jeanne is known as the “Mother of Aquariophily.” Jeanne Villepreux-Power was the woman who invented the aquarium.  

Jeanne Villepreux was born on September 24, 1794, in the rural village of Juillac, Corrèze, France. She was the eldest child of a humble shoemaker. Jeanne had a basic education, a very little knowledge more than how to read and write.  

When Jeanne was 18 years old, she walked all the way to Paris covering a distance of over 400 kilometers to become a dressmaker.

In Paris, she became the assistant of a society dressmaker. She found fame when she designed the wedding gown for Princess Caroline, the future Duchesse de Berry. Princess Caroline was a Sicilian princess who married the nephew of the French king in 1816.   

It was through the commision of this wedding gown that Jeanne met James Power, a rich English nobleman, and merchant. They got married in 1818 in Messina, Sicily, where they lived for more than 20 years. 

Career Of Jeanne Villepreux-Power – Female French scientist, marine biologist, inventor

It was soon after her marriage when Jeanne became interested in natural history.

She was a self-taught naturalist who traveled around Sicily recording and describing its flora and fauna, collecting specimens of minerals, fossils, butterflies, and shells. 

In 1839, Jeanne Villepreux-Power published Observations et expériences physiques sur plusieurs animaux marins et terrestres (Physical Observations and Experiments on Several Marine and Terrestrial Animals), which recorded her work with A. Argo, a species similar to hermit crabs, and other animals.

In 1842, Jeanne published Guida per la Sicilia (Guide to Sicily), a survey of the island’s environment

Inventions of Jeanne Villepreux-Power – Female French scientist, marine biologist, inventor

In 1832, Jeanne was the first person to create aquaria for experimenting with aquatic organisms. In 1858, the British biologist Richard Owen described Jeanne Villepreux-Power as the “mother os aquariophily.”  

Jeanne’s invention of the aquarium is perhaps her greatest contribution to marine biology. 

In 1840, Jeanne Villepreux-Power and her husband moved from Sicily to new residences in London and Paris. In a shipwreck in 1843, a major part of her collections, records, and other scientific materials was lost.  

Even though Jeanne continued to write after 1843, with all her work gone to the bottom of the ocean, she discontinued her research. 

The invention of Jeanne Villepreux-Power – Aquarium – Female French scientist, marine biologist, inventor

In 1832, Jeanne Villepreux-Power invented the first glass aquarium. Her invention was designed to help Jeanne with her observations and experiments on the marine species.

By using the aquarium as a tool for her research, Jeanne became the first to discover that A. Argo produces its own shell rather than obtaining the shell from another organism. Jeanne reasoned that the tiny organisms that accompanied the egg mass contained within the shell of A. Argo were males of the species. Later other marine biologists revealed that those organisms were male reproductive organs that attached themselves to the female’s mantle.

After inventing her first aquarium, Jeanne developed two other aquarium designs: a glass apparatus placed within a cage for use in shallow water and a cagelike aquarium capable of lowering its contents to various depths.

Death of Jeanne Villepreux-Power – Female French scientist, marine biologist, inventor

Jeanne Villepreux-Power died on January 25, 1871. Sadly, Jeanne was forgotten for more than a century after her death. It was not until much later, in 1997, that her work was rediscovered and her name was given to a major crater on Venus discovered by the Magellan probe. 

3. Female Inventor Joy Mangano – Female American entrepreneur and inventor of Miracle Mop

Biography (Life) of Joy Mangano – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Joy Mangano is an American entrepreneur and the inventor of the self-wringing Miracle Mop. Joy is the president of Ingenious Designs, LLC., a company she started and later sold off to USA Networks. She regularly appears on the U.S. television shopping channel HNS. 

Joy Mangano was born on February 1, 1956, in East Meadow, New York. Joy graduated with a degree in business administration from Pace University in 1978. 

Joy was married to Tony Miranne from 1978 to 1989. The couple had three children: Christie, Robert, and Jaqueline Miranne. 

The career of Joy Mangano – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Joy is the president of Ingenious Designs, LLC., a company she started and later sold off to USA Networks. She regularly appears on the U.S. television shopping channel HNS. 

Joy is the author of the autobiographical book Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave & Creative Life which was released in 2017. 

Inventions of Joy Mangano – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

“Stay positive, go out, and start something new!” – Joy Mangano

Joy Mangano has created and sold nearly $3 billion of products. The Miracle Mop was her first invention followed by others including:

– The Huggable Hangers: no-slip, velvet flocked hangers whose slender profile conserves wardrobe space

– Forever Fragrant: a line of house odor neutralizers that includes sticks, scent stands, wickless candles, finials, shoe shapers, and drawer liners

– Performance Platforms: shoes with rubber platform heels that give the user extra height; the line started with sneakers, and extended to mules, Mary Janes, and sandals

– The SpinBall Wheel luggage: a wheeled luggage with several organizational features such as a padded laptop compartment, a pocket for airplane tickets, a toiletry organizer, and removable dividers. Other products in this line include smaller duffel bags, portable dressers, briefcases, and pet carriers

– Shades Readers: a line of reading glasses sold in sets of three or more that are meant to be placed around the home or office for easy access

– Comfort & Joy Textiles: a range of bedding that is made from Supima cotton. The sets come with a zippered, reversible duvet cover and sheets that are fixed to the bed skirt for easy removal and cleaning

The invention of Joy Mangano – Female American entrepreneur and inventor – Miracle Mop

In 1990, Joy Mangano invented the Miracle Mop, a self-wringing plastic mop that can be easily squeezed out without the need of making the user’s hands wet. Joy’s company sold about $10 million a year worth of Miracle Mops.  

Patents of Joy Mangano – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

“All you need is one person to say yes to an idea.” – Joy Mangano

Joy Mangano’s list of patent applications include applications that are still pending as well as granted patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The Movie “Joy” and Joy Mangano  – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Entrepreneur and inventor Joy Mangano was the inspiration behind “Joy,” the 2015 David O. Russell film starring Jennifer Lawrence. The film Joy is loosely based on her life.

In March 2018, Broadway’s producer Ken Davenport aquired the musical rights to the life of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano. 

Awards and Honors of Joy Mangano  – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Mangano was once named Long Island Entrepreneur of The Year, she was listed on The 10 Most Creative Women in Business and in Fast Company’s catalog of The 100 Most Creative People in Business. 

4. Female Inventor Harriet Williams Russell Strong – Female American social activist, conservationist, inventor of a method for dam and reservoir construction, and another for impounding debris and storing water

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikipedia

Biography (Life) of  Harriet Williams Russell Strong – Female American social activist, conservationist, inventor

Harriet Williams Russell Strong was an American social activist, inventor, conservationist, and leading figure of the early woman’s movement. Harriet is best known for her design and invention for a water irrigation system.

Harriet Williams Russell was born in Buffalo, New York on July 23, 1844. Harriet was educated by private teachers and at Young Ladies Seminary at Benicia, California. Her family moved twice, first to California in 1852 and later to Carson City, Nevada in 1861, where Harriet met Charles Lyman Strong, her future husband.

Harriet married Charles Strong at the age of 19. Charles had made his fortune in banking, publishing, and mining. The couple with their first two daughters moved to San Gabriel Valley in California where Charles built a house and named it Rancho del Fuerte (Ranch of the Strong). Life in the ranch was too boring for Charles so tried to look for another chance in the mining business. 

Unfortunately, he failed and found himself in debt instead. Charles borrowed against Rancho del Fuerte, increasing his debt even more. Desperate and disappointed after a number of business ventures failures Charles committed suicide in 1883. 

Upon Charles death and for the next ten years, Harriet had to fight to keep control of the ranch, find means of earning money, and deal with her husband’s debt at the same time she was raising four daughters. 

Harriet came upon walnuts when searching for a stable crop. Walnuts require constant moisture so Harriet designed an irrigation system for her walnut grove. Thanks to her efforts, Harriet was able to pay off her husband’s debt and support herself and her four daughters. 

The career of Harriet Williams Russell Strong – Female American social activist, conservationist, inventor

Once Harriet was free from her husband’s debt, she continued to push forward with her ideas for water irrigation. She became an advocate for water conservation and in 1917, she went before Congress and presented a plan that she had designed to dam the Colorado River. 

For the last 17 years of her life, Harriet was an advocate of women’s rights. She traveled to numerous places speaking on behalf of women’s education and the push to get women more economically secure. 

Inventions of  Harriet Williams Russell Strong – Female American social activist, conservationist, inventor

Some of Harriet Williams Russell STrong’s patented inventions include:

– Device for Raising and Lowering Windows patented on October 7, 1884

– Dam and Reservoir Construction patented on December 6, 1887

– Window Sash Holder patented on November 16, 1886

– Hook and Eye patented on November 4, 1884

– Method of and Means for Impounding Debris and Storing Water, patented on November 6, 1894 

Harriet was awarded two medals for her inventions by the World’sColumbian Exposition in Chicago, in 1918.

Musical Career of  Harriet Williams Russell Strong – Female American social activist, conservationist, inventor

Harriet Williams Russell Strong was a talented woman. She was a talented musical composer and published a number of songs and a book of musical sketches. She was also the vice-president of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra Association for many years. 

Death of  Harriet Williams Russell Strong – Female American social activist, conservationist, inventor

Harriet Williams Russell Strong died in a car accident on a trip back to her ranch in September 1926.

She accomplished amazing things throughout her life. Raising four daughters on her own was not an easy task. She also maintained a ranch, patented five inventions, advocated both water conservation and women’s rights. 

5. Female Inventor Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor of hydrazine resistojet propulsion system

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: ASME

Biography (Life) of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor

Yvonne Madelaine Claeys Brill was a Canadian-born American aerospace engineer rocket scientist who pioneered the electrothermal hydrazine thruster. She invented the propulsion system that keeps communication satellites from falling out of orbit.

Yvonne Madelaine Claeys was born on December 30, 1924, near Winnipeg, in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Yvonne and her two siblings were first-generation Canadians from parents who had emigrated from Belgium.

Yvonne was the first one in her family to go to college. When Yvonne was a child she was very curious. She loved science. When her high school science teacher told her that a woman wouldn’t get anywhere in science she got disappointed, perhaps more because she expected to have the support of her science teacher.

Her father wanted Yvonne to open up a little shop in town. She was determined, she didn’t listen to either of them and, with a scholarship, entered the University of Manitoba.

Yvonne graduated with a degree in science. She initially wanted to study engineering, but the university denied her admission because they couldn’t accommodate women. 

The career of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor

After graduation, in 1945, Yvonne accepted a job offer from the Douglas Aircraft Company in California. She moved to the United States then. Yvonne wanted to get a master’s degree in chemistry so she decided to attend evening classes at the University of Southern California.

There Yvonne met William Brill. They married within a year, in 1951, and moved to the East Coast, first to Connecticut, then to New Jersey.

Yvonne managed to balance her family life and her career very well. She followed William, who was a research chemist, to wherever his job would take them. 

“Good husbands are harder to find than good jobs.” – Yvonne C. Brill

Yvonne always managed to get job offers in a field dominated by men. In the beginning, Yvonne worked part-time jobs so that she could care for their three young children.

Yvonne Brill is believed to be the only woman in the United States who was researching into rocket science in the mid-1940s. Yvonne encountered her fair share of prejudice and discrimination. She was paid a salary below that of men. 

For the last twenty years of her life, Yvonne C. Brill promoted other women scientists’ work, nominating them for various prizes that she thought they deserved.

In part, Yvonne’s reason for going into rocket engineering was that virtually no other women were doing so. “I reckoned they would not invent rules to discriminate against one person,” she said in a 1990 interview.

Inventions of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor

“I reckoned they would not invent rules to discriminate against one person.”-Yvonne C. Brill

During her lifetime, Yvonne C. Brill contributed to the propulsion systems of TIROS, the first weather satellite; Nova, a series of rocket designs that were used in American moon missions; Explorer 32, the first upper-atmosphere satellite; and the Mars Observer, which in 1992 almost entered a Mars orbit before losing communication with Earth.

The invention of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor – hydrazine resistojet propulsion system

Yvonne C. Brill developed the concept for a new rocket engine. She called it hydrazine resistojet. Resistojet is a method of spacecraft propulsion that provides thrust by heating a non-reactive fluid. 

Patents of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor

In 1967, Yvonne Brill designed and invented the hydrazine resistojet propulsion system. Yvonne Brill patented her propulsion system for satellites in 1972. She received U.S. Patent number 3,807,657 for her invention. 

The first communications satellite using Yvonne’s invention was launched in 1983. Her invention is still being used by satellites that handle worldwide phone service, long-range television broadcasts, and other tasks.

Yvonne Brill’s invention became a standard in the industry. It has brought millions of dollars of increased revenue for commercial communications satellite owners.  

Awards and Honors of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor

In 2002, Yvonne received the AIAA Wyld Propulsion Award. In 2009, she was awarded the John Fritz Medal, in 2010, Yvonne was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, also in 2010, she received the National Medal of Technology. 

Yvonne was awarded NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2001, and top honors from several major engineering societies.

In 2011, at a White House ceremony, President Barack Obama awarded Yvonne Brill the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for engineers and innovators. 

Death of Yvonne C. Brill – Female Canadian-American scientist, propulsion engineer, inventor

Yvonne C. Brill died of complications of breast cancer in Princeton, New Jersey on March 27, 2013, at the age of 88. 

6. Female Inventor Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor of Line Divider

Hertha Ayrton is best known for her work on sand ripples and electric arcs.

Phoebe Sarah Marks adopted the name Hertha in her teenage years, after the ancient Germanic earth goddess. She was an award-winning British mathematician, physicist, inventor, and engineer. Hertha Ayrton is best known for her work on sand ripples and electric arcs.

Hertha Ayrton was born Phoebe Sarah Marks on April 28, 1854, in Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. She was the third of eight children of a Jewish watchmaker and jeweler who had emigrated from Poland to escape the pogroms.

Her father died when she was seven, leaving her pregnant mother and her six brothers in poverty. Mrs. Marks was of the idea that women needed a better not worse education than men, because “women have the harder battle to fight in the world.”  

When Sarah was nine years old, her mother allowed her to go to London to live with her aunt Marion Harzog, who ran a school and had invited Sarah to go and study with her cousins who introduced her to mathematics.

At 16, Sarah was working as a governess in order to support herself and her studies which she was determined to advance further.  

In 1876, Hertha went on to attend Girton College, part of the University of Cambridge. She passed the Cambridge University Examination for Women in 1874 with honors in both English and maths. However, the University of Cambridge did not give degrees to women at the time, so she received her degree in science through the University of London in 1881, instead.

“Errors are notoriously hard to kill but an error that ascribes to a man what was actually the work of a woman has more lives than a cat.” – Hertha Ayrton

Hertha was known for her fiery personality and for pioneering women’s education and the first residential college for women established in England. Hertha was a close friend of Marie Curie. She famously wrote: ” Errors are notoriously hard to kill, but an error that ascribes to a man what was actually the work of a woman has more lives than a cat” after Marie’s discovery of radium was attributed to her husband. Hertha also conducted a vigorous campaign in the press.  

Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot and Hertha were close friends. The writer was a keen supporter of education for women and she took an interest in Hertha’s efforts to fund a place at Girton College.   

The career of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor

Hertha Ayrton earned money by teaching and embroidery. She taught mathematics at Notting Hill and Ealing High School. Many of her mathematical problems were published in Mathematical Questions and Their Solutions from the Educational Times.

In 1884, Hertha began attending evening classes at Finsbury Technical College where she met her future husband, Professor William Edward Ayrton who was a pioneer in electrical engineering and physics education and a fellow of the Royal Society. 

After marrying William Ayrton in 1885, Hertha began assisting him with experiments in physics and electricity. Hertha also began her own research on the characteristics of the electric arc. 

Hertha wrote articles on her research for The Electrician. In her articles, she explained that the problems with the electric arc were the result of oxygen coming into contact with the carbon rods used to create the arc. 

In 1899, Hertha read her paper entitled The Hissing of The Electric Arc before the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE). A few hours later, she was elected the first female member of the IEE. The next woman was admitted to the IEE in 1958. 

It was not before the late 19th century that Hertha Ayrton’s work in the field of electrical engineering was widely recognized not only in England but also internationally. 

Inventions of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor

In 1915, Hertha Ayrton developed a device to blow away poisonous gases from the trenches, keeping soldiers fit. More than 100,000 of the fans were used on the Western Front. 

Other inventions include mathematical dividers, arc lamps and electrodes, and propulsion of air. 

The invention of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist, and inventor – Line Divider

Hertha’s first major invention was the line-divider. Her invention was an engineering drawing instrument for dividing a line into any number of equal parts and for enlarging and reducing figures.

The primary use for line-divider was for artists for enlarging and diminishing. However, it was also widely used by architects and engineers. Hertha’s invention was shown at the Exhibition of Women’s Industries receiving significant press attention. 

Patents of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor

“In experimenting on the arc, my aim was not so much to add to the large number of isolated facts that had already been discovered, as to form some idea of the bearing of these upon one another, and thus to arrive at a clear conception of what takes place in each part of the arc and carbons at every moment.”- Hertha Ayrton 

Hertha Ayrton registered 26 different patent during her lifetime. In 1884, Hertha patented her first major invention: the line-divider, an instrument used for dividing lines into a number of equal parts. Other patents include five on mathematical dividers, 13 on arc lamps and electrodes, and the rest on the propulsion of air.

Publication of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist, and inventor – “Electric Arcs”

In 1893, Hertha began researching highly luminous and intensely hot discharges of electricity between two electrodes. Arc lamps were used for public lighting at the time but they would flicker and hiss on the streets.

Hertha’s work led to fixing this issue by binding the arc together to form one constant whole. 

Awards and Honors of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor

“The attempt to correlate all the known phenomena, and to bind them together into one consistent whole, led to the deduction of new facts, which, when duly tested by experiment, became parts of the growing body, and, themselves, opened up fresh questions, to be answered in their turn by experiment.” – Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Ayrton has received many awards and honors in her lifetime and after her death. Most recently, in 2017, Sheffield Hallam University in England named their new STEM center after Hertha Ayrton.  

In 1899, Hertha Ayrton was elected the first woman Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE). 

In 1902, Hertha Ayrton was proposed as a candidate for the Royal Society Fellowship. Hertha’s certificate seems to have been the first in the history of the Society to be submitted in favor of a woman, and 41 years were to elapse before the next.

In 1906, she received the Royal Society’s Hughes medal, which is awarded annually for original discovery in the physical sciences, for her work on the electric arc, and on sand ripples. Hertha Ayrton is still the only woman to have received this medal.

In 1923, Hertha Ayrton’s lifelong friend Ottilie Hancock endowed the Hertha Ayrton Research Fellowship at Girton College, a fellowship that continues today. 

In 2007, an English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled at 41 Norfolk Square in Paddington, where Herta lived, to commemorate her.

In 2016, the Council of the University of Cambridge approved the use of Hertha Ayrton’s name to mark a physical feature of the North West Cambridge Development. 

Death of Hertha Ayrton – Female British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor

Hertha Ayton died of blood poisoning caused by an insect bite on August 23, 1923, in Bexhill-on-sea, Sussex, England. She was 69. 

7. Female Inventor Sarah Breedlove / Madam C. J. Walker –  Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor of beauty and hair care products for black women, America’s first female self-made millionaire

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Madam C. J. Walker – Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor

Sarah Breedlove, known as Madame C.J.Walker, was born in 1867 to a family of slaves on a plantation in Louisiana. Thanks to Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that took effect on January 1st, 1863, she was the first child in her family born into freedom.

Sarah Breedlove became an orphan at the age of seven after both her parents died from yellow fever. She was a wife to Moses McWilliams at the age of 14 after escaping from her brother-in-law’s abuse. Sarah was a mother at 17, to a baby girl called A’Lelia. Soon, a widow at 20, after Moses died presumably in an accident, according to author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles, who is a great-great-granddaughter and biographer of Madame C.J.Walker.

The career of Madam C. J. Walker – Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor

“I want you to understand that your first duty is to humanity. I want others to look at us and see that we care not just about ourselves but about others.” – Madame C. J. Walker

Aged 33, Sarah started her business career selling the first hair products known as Madame C.J. Walker Wonderful Hair Grower and Madame C.J. Walker Vegetable Shampoo.

At 38, she married Charles Joseph Walker, and set up the Madame C.J.Walker Manufacturing Company in the US, and later expanded her business to Central America and the Caribbean.

Her line of hair treatment, maintenance, scalp stimulation, and beauty products mainly targeted at black women focused on the need for a healthy and clean scalp, something not always possible due to living conditions back then. She recruited 25,000 black women by the early 1900s from North and Central America, and the Caribbean as door-to-door beauty consultants.

Inventions of Madam C. J. Walker – Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor

As her hair loss increased rapidly, Madame C.J.Walker developed a formula mixing petroleum —similar to vaseline,— sulfur, and a little perfume to make it smell better.

She used this formula to treat the severe scalp disease, a common disease of the time, which was causing the hair loss. After the successful results, Madame Walker started bottling the formula and selling it door-to-door to other African-American women suffering from the same disease.

Patents of Madam C. J. Walker – Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor

Madame C. J. Walker did not patent any products herself. However, Walker’s company was the holder of several patents including one for a metal comb from a man who had supplied combs to Madam Walker during her lifetime.

Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company / Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture

The Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company was a cosmetics manufacturer in Indianapolis, Indiana established in 1910 by Madam C. J. Walker. The company was successful and it became famous for its African-American cosmetics and hair care products invented and developed by Madame C. J. Walker.

The Madame C. J. Walker Company was considered the most widely known and financially successful African-American owned business of the early twentieth century. In 1981, the Madame C. J. Walker Company ceased operations. 

Madame C.J.Walker paid fair wages. She paid $25 per week to members of her team. Otherwise, these women would have earned about $2 per week in domestic work. An estimate of around 40,000 African-American worked for Madame C.J. Walker over the years that the Madame C. J. Walker was active. 

A pioneer of the modern cosmetics industry, Madame C.J. Walker was the first one using the method known today as direct sales marketing to distribute and sell her products, a method adopted later on by companies such as  Avon, Tupperware, and others.

In 2016, Sundial Brands launched a new line called Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture which is sold exclusively in Sephora stores and at Sephora.com

Madam C. J. Walker’s Activism and Philanthropy – Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor 

“I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself, for I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.  I want to say to every Negro woman present, don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!” – Madame C. J. Walker

A remarkable woman, who fought against racism, she used her wealth to support African-American institutions, the black YMCA, helped people with their mortgages, donated to orphan and senior citizens homes, she wanted to found a school for black girls in Nigeria although she was not able to do it. She thought educating young girls and women would make a difference in society.

Death of Madam C. J. Walker – Female African-American entrepreneur, inventor

Madame C. J. Walker, who is considered one of the most successful African-American entrepreneurs throughout history, passed away at the age of 51 from kidney failure in 1919. 

8. Female Inventor Ada Lovelace – Female English mathematician, writer, inventor of the first computer program

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer. She is known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.  She wrote the instructions for the first computer program in the mid-1800s. 

Augusta Ada Byron or Lady Byron was born in London, England on December 10, 1815. Her father was the poet Lord George Byron and her mother Annabella Milbarke Byrne. Annabella left Lord Byron when Ada was two months old and later they legally separated.

Lord Byron left England and never came back. He died in Greece when Ada was eight years old. Ada never knew him personally. 

“I shall, in due time, be a Poet.” – Ada Lovelace

Ada’s mother insisted that her daughter should learn mathematics and science. Ada was also educated in music and French, though not in poetry. However, she had little contact with her daughter. Ada was brought up by her maternal grandmother and servants. Ada’s grandmother died when she was seven. 

Ada’s mother demanded from her daughter that she should work hard. If she thought her young daughter had not worked hard enough she would punish her with long periods of isolation. 

Even though there were no places for girls in the United Kingdom’s universities, girls from wealthy, aristocratic families could get a high-level education by private tutors.

Ada was privately educated by tutors and also self-educated. Augusts De Morgan, the first professor of mathematics at the University of London, helped Ada in her advanced studies. 

At the age of 19, Ada married William King, 8th Baron King on July 8, 1835. When her husband has created an earl in 1838 Ada became Countess of Lovelace. Then she became to be known as Ada Lovelace. 

The career of Ada Lovelace – Female English mathematician, writer, inventor

“Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things. But to use and apply that language, we must be able fully to appreciate, to feel, to seize the unseen, the unconscious.” – Ada Lovelace

In 1833, when Ada was 17, she met Charles Babbage. He was 42 at the time and was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton and by Stephen Hawking.

Despite the age difference, Ada and Babbage were intellectual peers. Ada corresponded with Charles Babagge for two decades.  

Inventions of Ada Lovelace – Female English mathematician, writer, inventor

“The Analytical Engine does not occupy common ground with mere ‘calculating machines.’ It holds a position wholly its own, and the considerations it suggests are more interesting in their nature.” – Ada Lovelace

Ada’s work in mathematics led to the development of the calculations that early machines such as the Analytical Engine could produce. Ada Lovelace often considered her approach to mathematics as more of a poetical science from an analytical perspective. Perhaps despite her mother’s efforts to not let poetry into Ada’s life had failed. 

Ada knew that the first computer needed to have a procedure installed that could help it be able to produce accurate calculations if such computer was expected to work right. Ada Lovelace created the first well-defined instructions that were necessary for the Analytical Machine to be able to function properly. Ada’s notes, which were included in this work, are widely recognized as the world’s first computer algorithm.

The invention of Ada Lovelace – Female English mathematician, writer, inventor – Computer Program

“We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” – Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace is widely considered to be the first author of a computer program despite she lived a century before the invention of the modern computer. If Charles Babagge is called the Father of Computing Ada Lovelace can be called the Mother of Computer Programming.

In 1843, Babagge asked Ada to translate an article that had been published by an Italian military engineer regarding the operations of the Analytical Engine. Ada then not only translated the document but also went on adding her own notes to the process so that they could be effectively added to the programming. Ada’s notes ended up being three times longer than the actual translation. 

She also corrected some errors she found in some of Babagge’s calculations that were included in the document. Ada was then able to take this vision to see that computer programs could be expanded to do much more than just make basic calculation or crunch numbers. She demonstrated how to calculate Bernoulli Numbers.

Ada proved this by diagraming the computations showing that the Engine could be used for practical and scientifical purposes. She also said that one day the Engine could compose elaborated pieces of music. Ada basically predicted many uses for computers today. 

“I have got a scheme to make a thing in the form of a horse with a steam engine in the inside so contrived as to move an immense pair of wings, fixed on the outside of the horse, in such a manner as to carry it up into the air while a person sits on its back.” – Ada Lovelace

Way ahead of her time, Ada Lovelace had essentially created what today we call a computer algorithm. 

The Engine was finally never built. Ada’s translation, however, was published and very well received by the scientific community. In 1953, people began to build the modern computers, so Ada’s work was re-published. 

Controversies over Ada Lovelace’s Contributions – Female English mathematician, writer, inventor

“Those who incline to very strictly utilitarian views may perhaps feel that the peculiar powers of the Analytical Engine bear upon questions of abstract and speculative science rather than upon those involving everyday and ordinary human interests.” -Ada Lovelace

In the way, it has happened many times when a female inventor invented something extraordinary and way ahead of her time, there is some controversy over giving Ada Lovelace the credit for these specific inventions: algorithms, the first computer program, and the Analytical Engine.

In a 1990 essay, her involvement in these inventions was questioned. The essay claimed that Ada’s notes had actually been created by Babbage at least three years before she published them.

Others have questioned her mathematical ability and some others have gone as far as to claim that Ada Lovelace had very little influence on the computer at all. Of course, all these claims come from men. Sadly, even today in the 21st century

For the skeptics, we can say that only history really knows. We understand that for some it is hard to believe that these fundamental inventions that influence all of us every day in some way were invented by a woman in the 1800s. 

Death of Ada Lovelace – Female English mathematician, writer, inventor

“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal, as time will show.” – Ada Lovelace

Tragically, the extraordinary Ada Lovelace died from uterine cancer too young at the age of 36 in London on November 27, 1852. Ada was buried in the graveyard of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Nottingham, England. 

In her time, people called Ada the Enchantress of Numbers. She called herself an analyst and metaphysician.

9. Female Inventor Patricia Bath – Female American scientist, ophthalmologist, academic and inventor of Laserphaco Probe

 

Biography (Life) of Patricia Bath – Female American scientist, ophthalmologist, academic and inventor

Dr. Patricia Bath is pioneer ophthalmologist, inventor, and academic who is known for inventing a tool and procedure for the removal of cataracts using a laser beam called the Laserphaco probe.

Patricia Bath is the daughter of the first African-American motorman to work for the New York City subway system and a domestic worker mother who saved her money for her children’s education. Patricia was born on November 4, 1942, in Harlem, New York.

Patricia was encouraged by her family to pursue academic interests. Her father, who was a former Merchant Marine and an occasional newspaper columnist, taught Patricia about the wonders of travel and the value of exploring new cultures

Patricia’s interest in science became evident at an early age and her mother bought her a chemistry set. Dr. Patricia Bath describes herself as being a curious child.

At the age of 16, Patricia became one of only a few students to attend a cancer research workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Patricia graduated from high school in only two years. Then she headed to Hunter College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1964. Patricia attended Howard University to pursue a medical degree.

Patricia Bath graduated with honors from Howard in 1968. She accepted an internship at Harlem Hospital shortly afterward. The following year, Patricia also began pursuing a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University.

The career of Patricia Bath – Female American scientist, ophthalmologist, academic, and inventor

“The ability to restore sight is the ultimate reward.” (Stated when asked about her personal best moment and she referred to a humanitarian mission to North Africa, when she restored the sight of a woman who had been blind for thirty years by implanting a kerato prosthesis.)
-Dr. Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath’s life has been a series of “firsts.” In 1973, Patricia Bath became the first African-American to complete a residency in ophthalmology. Patricia moved to California in 1974 to work as an assistant professor of surgery at both Charles R. Drew University and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1975, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.

In 1976, Patricia Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that eyesight is a basic human right. In 1983, Patricia Bath had helped create the Ophthalmology Residency Training program at UCLA-Drew, which she also chaired and becoming the first woman in the United States to hold such a position.

In 1993, Dr, Patricia Bath retired from her position at the UCLA Medical Center, although she became an honorary member of its medical staff. In the same year, Dr. Bath was named a Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine.

Dr. Patricia Bath is a strong advocate of telemedicine, which uses technology to provide medical services in remote areas.

The invention of Patricia Bath – Female American scientist, ophthalmologist, academic, and inventor – Laserphaco Probe

In 1981, Dr. Bath began working on what it became her most well-known invention. It took Dr. Patricia Bath several years working long hours in the lab until two or three in the morning to develop her invention.

Finally, one long rainy night in 1985, the Laserphaco probe came through. Dr. Bath’s invention has increased the accuracy of cataracts surgery, a procedure previously performed manually.

The Laserphaco Probe allowed Patricia Bath to help restore the sight of individuals who had been blind for more than 30 years. 

Patents of Patricia Bath – Female American scientist, ophthalmologist, academic and inventor

On December 18, 1986, Dr. Bath filed a patent for her groundbreaking discovery becoming the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent.

The patent for the “Apparatus for Ablating and Removing Cataract Lenses” was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on May 17, 1988, with the number 4,744,360.

Patricia Bath became the first African-American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Dr. Bath also holds patents in Japan, Canada, and Europe.

Awards and Honors of Patricia Bath – Female American scientist, ophthalmologist, academic and inventor

In 1993, Howard University name Dr. Bath a Howard University Pioneer in Academic University. Today, Dr. Bath is a retired professor of Ophthalmology, UCLA, and the co-founder and President of the American Institution for The Prevention of Blindness that establishes that “eyesight is a basic human right.”

In recognition for her advocacy for the blind, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Bath to his commission for Digital Accessibility for The Blind in 2009.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Patricia Bath and the Class of 1968 graduation from Howard University College of Medicine in May 2018, the Howard University Medical Alumni Association (HUMAA) honors Dr. Bath by endowing the Patricia E. Bath MD scholarship for a female medical student, a scholarship that she sponsors. 

10. Female Inventor Margaret Eloise Knight – Female American entrepreneur, inventor of the paper bag machine


Margaret Eloise Knight was born on February 14, 1838, in York, Maine. She was a prolific American inventor of machines and mechanisms for industrial and everyday purposes.

After Margaret’s father died when she was young her family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire where she received a basic education. When she was 12, Margaret witnessed an accident at a cotton mill where she was working; a worker was stabbed by a steel-tipped shuttle that shot out of a mechanical loom.

This triggered young Margaret to invent a safety device for the loom that was later adopted by other Manchester mills. She completed her invention within a few weeks. She was too young to think about patenting the invention. Due to health problems, Margaret could not continue working at the cotton mill. In her teens and early 20s, Margaret held several jobs in home repairing, photography, and engraving.

Career of Margaret Eloise Knight – Female American entrepreneur


In 1867, Margaret was hired by the Columbia Paper Bag Company. In 1868, Margaret Knight invented the machine that folded and glued paper to form the flat-bottomed brown paper bags. First, as it was usual at the time, she built a wooden model of her invention. However, in order to patent the device she needed a working iron model to apply for a patent.

A thief called Charles Annan was working in the machine shop where Margaret’s iron model was being built. He stole her design and quickly went to patent the device. Margaret filed a successful patent interference lawsuit, which she won, and was awarded the patent for her invention in 1871.

Together with a business partner, Margaret Knight established the Eastern Paper Bag Company and received royalties.

Inventions and Patents of Margaret Eloise Knight – Female American entrepreneur – Paper Bag Machine

Margaret Knight was highly inventive from an early age. When she was only 12 years old, Margaret invented a safety device for controlling shuttles in powered textile looms. In 1868, she invented an attachment for paper-bag-folding machines that allowed the production of square-bottomed bags. After working to improve her invention she patented it in 1870.

Margaret received patents for a dress and skirt shield in 1883, a clasp for robes in 1884, and a spit in 1885. She also received six patents for machines used in the manufacturing of shoes.

Margaret Knight’s inventions included the numbering machine, and a window frame and sash both patented in 1894. She also invented several devices relating to rotary engines, patented between 1902 and 1915. She was one of the most productive female inventors with 87 patents to her credit.

Death of Margaret Eloise Knight – Female American entrepreneur

Margaret Eloise Knight died at the Framingham Hospital of pneumonia and gallstones at the age of 76 on October 12, 1914. She never married. 

Although she was a great prolific inventor, she failed to profit much from her work. When Margaret Knight died she was honored by a local obituary that called her a woman Edison.

Margaret Knight was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006. Her original paper-bag-making machine is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

11. Female Inventor Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor of the automatic dishwasher

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: The Robinson Library 

Biography (Life) of Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Josephine Garis-Cochrane was a wealthy woman who hosted dinner parties often. She wanted a machine that could wash dishes faster than her servants without breaking them. 

Josephine Garis was born on March 8, 1839, in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Her father, John Garis, was a civil engineer and her mother was Irene Fitch Garis. She had a sister, Irene. Josephine’s maternal grandfather, John Fitch, was awarded a patent for his steamboat invention. Josephine went to a private school until the school burnt down.

The marriage of Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Josephine moved to Shelbyville, Illinois to live with her sister Irene. There, she met William Cochran who was a prosperous dry goods merchant and Democratic Party Politician. Josephine married William on October 13, 1858. The couple had two children, Hallie, a son who died at the age of two, and Katharine.   

In 1870, the Cochrans moved into a mansion where they began to throw dinner parties using expensive heirloom china dating from the 1600s. On one occasion, the servants accidentally chipped some of the dishes.

This event triggered Josephine to began searching for a mechanical way of washing her expensive china. However, she found none. It was then when she began developing her idea for a dishwashing machine.

“If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.”  -Josephine Cochrane

William, who was an alcoholic, died in 1883 leaving Josephine with a pile of debts and only $1,535.59 in cash. She was only 45. Josephine kept her husband’s last name but added the “e” to become Cochrane after his death.

Career of Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

In order to survive after William’s death, Josephine Cochrane began developing her idea for a dishwashing machine further, which she constructed with the help of mechanic George Butters. The Cochrane Dishwasher was born. Later, Josephine found the Garis-Cochrane Manufacturing Company and began production in 1897. In the beginning, she started selling dishwashing machines to her friends.

Invention of Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor – Automatic Dishwasher

Josephine Cochrane was the inventor of the first commercially successful automatic dishwasher. When she was designing it, she measured the dishes first, then she made wire compartments, each designed to fit plates, cups, or saucers.

Then the individual compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat within a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes.

Josephine’s invention was a success. She showed the dishwasher at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. She won the highest prize for best mechanical construction, durability, and adaptation to its line of work. Soon, Josephine Cochrane was receiving orders for her dishwashing machine from restaurants and hotels in Illinois. The Garis-Cochrane Company she had initially founded to manufacture her dishwashers became KitchenAid.® 

Two men tried to reproduce Josephine’s success. In 1850, Joel Houghton designed a hand-cranked dish soaker and in the 1860s, L. A. Alexander improved on the device with a geared mechanism that allowed the user to spin racked dishes through a tub of water.

“I couldn’t get men to do the things I wanted in my way until they had tried and failed on their own. They insisted on having their own way with my invention until they convinced themselves my way was the best, no matter how I had arrived at it.” –Josephine Cochrane

However, neither of the devices was particularly effective and Josephine’s remain the only commercially successful dishwashing machine. Despite this, it was not until the 1950s that dishwashers became a standard household kitchen appliance after new suburban homes were built with the plumbing required to handle the extra hot water used by the dishwasher.

Patents of Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Josephine Cochrane patent number 355,139 on December 28, 1886, for her invention of the dishwasher machine.

Death of Josephine Cochrane – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Josephine Cochrane died of a stroke or exhaustion in Chicago, Illinois on August 14, 1913. She was 74 years old. Josephine was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Shelbyville, Illinois. In 2006, she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

12. Female Inventor Maria Beasley – Female American entrepreneur, inventor of life raft

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Megalibrarygirl/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Maria Beasley – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Maria Beasley was born in Philadelphia in 1847. In 1865, she got married. Maria held several jobs including dressmaker. Between 1891 and 1996, Chicago directories listed her occupation as an inventor.

Inventions of Maria Beasley – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Maria Beasley’s first invention, the barrel-hooping machine, made her quite a lot of money. In 1889, the Evening Star wrote that she made a small fortune out of a machine for the manufacture of barrels. Maria’s invention could make a total of 1,500 barrels a day. 

Maria Beasley’s other inventions included foot warmers, cooking pans, anti-derailment devices for trains, and two improved life raft designs. Her life rafts were also patented in Great Britain and used on the Titanic.

Maria wanted to create a better life raft that was fire-proof, compact, safe, and readily launched. In 1880, she invented her new design which included guard railings surrounding the raft and rectangular metal floats. This design was able to fold and unfold for easy storage, even with the rails.

Patents of Maria Beasley – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Maria Beasley is best known for the invention of a life raft. She received a patent for her invention on April 6, 1880.

Maria Beasley was granted her first patent in 1878 for her invention of the barrel-hopping machine. She showed this invention at the World Industrial and Cotton Exposition in 1884 together with her improved life raft, which Maria had patented in 1882.

Maria Beasley held fourteen different patents in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

Death of Maria Beasley – Female American entrepreneur, inventor

Little is known about an exact date of Maria Beasley’s death. It is believed that she died in 1904.

13. Female Inventor Elizabeth J. Magie –  American game designer, inventor of the very first version of Monopoly

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: PublicDomainPictures

Biography (Life) of Elizabeth J. Magie – Female American game designer, inventor

Elizabeth J. Magie was an American game designer who invented The Landlord’s Game, the precursor to Monopoly. 

Elizabeth J. Magie was born in Macomb, Illinois in 1866. Her father was James Magie, a newspaper publisher, and an abolitionist. He accompanied Lincoln as he traveled around Illinois in the late 1850s. Elizabeth was introduced to the economist Henry George’s book Progress and Poverty by her father and after this, she became a strong supporter of what it was called a single-tax system or Georgism.

In 1910, Elizabeth married Albert Phillips when she was 44.

Career of Elizabeth J. Magie – Female American game designer, inventor

In the early 1880s, Elizabeth worked as a stenographer and was also a short story and poetry writer, comedian, stage actress, feminist, and engineer. In 1906 she worked as a newspaper reporter.

Inventions of Elizabeth J. Magie – Female American game designer, inventor

Elizabeth Magie is best known for the invention of her game The Landlord’s Game. However, she created other games as well. Bargain Day, where shoppers compete with each other in a department store; King’s Men, is an abstract strategy game.

Invention of Elizabeth J. Magie – Female American game designer, inventor – the Landlord’s Game

Elizabeth Magie first created The Landlord’s Game to play with friends while living in Brentwood, Maryland. 

In 1906, she moved to Chicago where she and fellow Georgists formed the Economic Game Company to self-publish her original edition of The Landlord’s Game. In 1912, The Landlord’s Game was adopted in Scotland by the Newbie Game Company as Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Rabbit

In 1932, the second edition of  Elizabeth’s The Landlord’s Game was published by the Adgame Company of Washington D. C. This version was two games in one, as there were alternate rules for a game called Prosperity.

Elizabeth’s game was played at some colleges where students made their own copies.

Patents of Elizabeth J. Magie – Female American game designer, inventor

In 1903, Elizabeth Maggie applied for a patent for The Landlord’s Game. The game was designed to demonstrate the economic ill effects of land monopolism and the use of land value tax as a remedy for them. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted her U.S. Patent 748,626 on January 5, 1904.

Her original patent had expired in 1921. In 1924, Elizabeth patented a revised version of the game and received U.S. Patent 1,509,312

Death of Elizabeth J. Magie – Female American game designer, inventor

Elizabeth Magie died in Staunton, Virginia in 1948. She was 82. Elizabeth was buried with her husband, Albert Wallace Phillips, in Columbia Gardens Cemetery.  

In 1973, Ralph Anspach, an economics professor, began a legal battle against    Parker Brothers over his Anti-Monopoli game. While he was researching the case for the trial, he uncovered Elizabeth Magi’s patents and found that Monolopy had evolved from Elizabeth Magi’s original Landlord’s Game into the version Charles Darrow appropriated. It became clear she was the original inventor of the board game known now as Monopoly, something that was not uncovered during her lifetime. Anspach’s research became part of the court record.

14. Female Inventor Mary Anderson – American real estate developer, rancher, inventor of windshield wiper blade

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
 Source: Engineergirl.org 

Biography (Life) of Mary Anderson – American real estate developer, rancher, inventor

Mary Anderson was an American real estate developer, rancher, viticulturist, and inventor of the windshield wiper blade.

Mary Anderson was born on February 19, 1886, in Greene County, Alabama. In 1889, she moved with her widowed mother and sister to  Birmingham, Alabama. By 1893, Mary Anderson had moved west to Fresno, California where she operated a cattle ranch and vineyard until 1898. 

Invention of Mary Anderson – American real estate developer, rancher, inventor –  Windshield Wiper Blade

Mary Anderson visited New York City in the winter of 1902, in a trolley car on a frosty day. The motorman drove with both panes of the double front window open because of difficulty keeping the windshield clear of falling sleet. Back in Alabama, Mary hired a designer for a hand-operated device to keep a windshield clear, then she had a local company produce a working model of her invention.

Mary’s device consisted of a lever inside the vehicle that controlled a rubber blade on the outside of the windshield. The lever could be operated to cause the spring-loaded arm to move back and forth across the windshield. A counterweight was used to ensure contact between the wiper and the window. There had been attempts to produce similar devices earlier, but Mary Anderson’s was the first to be effective.

In 1905, Mary Anderson tried to sell the rights to her invention through a noted Canadian firm. They rejected her application saying “we do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant our undertaking its sale.” Would this had been different if the inventor of the windshield wiper blade for automobiles had been a man? 

In 1920, after the patent expired and the automobile manufacturing business grew exponentially, windshield wipers using Mary Anderson’s basic design became standard equipment in every automobile. Cadillac became the first car manufacturer to adopt them as standard equipment in 1922.

Patents of Mary Anderson – American real estate developer, rancher, inventor

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Mary Anderson her first patent for an automatic car window cleaning device controlled from inside the car, called the windshield wiper in November 1903. Her patent was valid for 17 years. After this, others could copy her idea.  

Death of Mary Anderson – American real estate developer, rancher, inventor

Mary Anderson resided in Birmingham, where she continued to manage the Fairmont Apartments until her death at the age of 87. She died on June 27, 1953, at her summer home in Monteagle, Tennessee. Mary was buried at Elmwood Cemetery. 

15. Female Inventor Marie Curie – Female Polish and naturalized-French scientist, physicist, chemist, discoverer of elements polonium and radium

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Tekniska Museet/Flickr

Biography (Life) of Marie Curie – Female Polish and naturalized-French scientist, physicist, chemist

Maria Sklodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867. She could not attend the men’s only University of Warsaw. She continued her education in Warsaw’s floating university, a set of underground, informal classes held in secret. Marie and her sister Bronya dreamed of going abroad to earn an official degree.

They lacked the financial resources to pay for more schooling. Marie made a deal with her sister. She would work to support Bronya while she was in school and Bronya would return the favor after she completed her studies. For five years, Marie worked as a tutor and a governess. In her spare time, she read about physics, chemistry, and math.

In 1891, Marie finally went to Paris and enrolled at the Sorbonne. With little money, Marie survived on buttered bread and tea. Her health sometimes suffered because of her poor diet. Marie completed her master’s degree in physics in 1893 and earned another degree in mathematics in 1894.

The marriage of Marie Curie – Female Polish and naturalized-French scientist, physicist, chemist

After Marie graduated from the University of Sorbonne, a colleague introduced Marie to French physicist Pierre Curie. They became a scientific dynamic duo completely devoted to one another. At first, Marie and Pierre worked on separate projects.

But after Marie discovered radioactivity, Pierre put aside his own work to help her with her research. Marie married Pierre Curie on July 26, 1895.

In 1906, Pierre was killed in Paris after accidentally stepping in front of a horse-drawn wagon. Despite her tremendous grief, Marie took over his teaching post at the Sorbonne, becoming the institution’s first female professor.

In 1911, Marie Curie’s relationship with her husband’s former student, Paul Langevin, became public. Marie was derided in the press for breaking up Langevin’s marriage.

Daughters of Marie Curie – Female Polish and naturalized-French scientist, physicist, chemist

In 1897, Irène; Marie and Pierre Curie’s first daughter was born. The second daughter, Ève, was born in 1904. Irène Joliot-Curie followed in her mother’s footsteps and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. She shared the honor with her husband, Frédéric Joliot, for their work on the synthesis of new radioactive elements.

Radioactivity Studies of Marie Curie – Female Polish scientist, physicist, chemist

“The use of the X-rays during the war saved the lives of many wounded men; it also saved many from long suffering and lasting infirmity.” — Marie Curie

Marie was fascinated with the work of Henri Becquerel, a French physicist who discovered that uranium casts off rays weaker than the X-rays found by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. Marie Curie took his work a few steps further and conducted her own experiments on uranium rays.

She discovered that they remained constant, no matter the condition or form of the uranium. She theorized that the rays came from the element’s atomic structure.

This revolutionary idea created the field of atomic physics. Marie Curie herself coined the word radioactivity to describe the phenomena.

Discovery of Marie Curie – Female Polish scientist, physicist, the chemist – Polonium

Following Marie’s discovery of radioactivity, she continued her research with Pierre. In 1898, while working with the mineral pitchblende, they discovered polonium, a new radioactive element. They named the element after Marie’s native country of Poland.

They detected the presence of another radioactive material in the pitchblende and called that radium. In 1902, the Curies announced that they had produced a decigram of pure radium, demonstrating its existence as a unique chemical element.

World War I Years and Marie Curie – Female Polish and naturalized-French scientist, physicist, chemist

World War I broke out in 1914, and Marie Curie devoted her time and resources to help the cause. She used portable X-ray machines in the field, and these medical vehicles earned the nickname Little Curies.

After the war, Marie used her celebrity to advance her research. Twice she traveled to the United States, in 1921 and in 1929, to raise funds to buy radium and to establish a radium research institute in Warsaw.

Marie became the director of the Red Cross Radiology Service and set up France’s first military radiology center, operational by late 1914. Maries was assisted by a military doctor and by her 17-year-old daughter Irène.

Marie Curie directed the installation of 20 mobile radiological vehicles and another 200 radiological units at field hospitals in the first year of the war. Later, she began training other women as aides

Awards and Honors of Marie Curie – Female Polish scientist, physicist, chemist

Marie has received numerous posthumous honors. Several educational and research institutions and medical centers near the Curie name, including the Curie Institute and Pierre and Marie Curie University, later renamed UPMC. 

Nobel Prizes of Marie Curie – Female Polish and naturalized-French scientist, physicist, chemist

Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person—man or woman—to win the award twice. Marie discovered radioactivity, and, together with Pierre, the radioactive elements polonium and radium while working with the mineral pitchblende. In 1903, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1911, she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Death of Marie Curie – Female Polish scientist, physicist, chemist

Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934, due to aplastic anemia, a rare disease in which the bone marrow and the hematopoietic stem cells that reside there are damaged. One of the known causes of aplastic anemia is prolonged exposure to radiation.

She used to carry test tubes of radium around in the pocket of her lab coat, and her many years working with radioactive materials took a toll on her health. She was also exposed to X-rays from unshielded equipment while serving as a radiologist in field hospitals during the war.

The damaging effects of ionizing radiation were not known at the time of Marie’s work, which had been carried out without the safety measures later developed.

Marie’s papers from the 1890s are considered too dangerous to handle because of their high levels of radioactive contamination. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. Marie’s papers are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing. 

In her last year, Marie worked on a book, Radioactivity, which was published posthumously in 1935. In 1995, Marie and Pierre Curie’s remains were interred in the Panthéon in Paris. Marie Curie became the first and one of only five women to be laid to rest there.

16. Female Inventor Melitta Bentz – Female German entrepreneur, inventor of coffee filter

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Melitta Bentz – Female German entrepreneur, inventor

Amalie Auguste Melitta Liebscher was born on January 31, 1873. She was a German entrepreneur who invented the coffee filter in 1908.

Melitta’s grandparents own a brewery and her father was a publisher and book salesman. Melitta married Johannes Emil Hugo Bentz. The couple had two sons, Willi and Horst in 1899 and 1904 respectively, and in 1911, a daughter, Herta.

Career of Melitta Bentz – Female German entrepreneur, inventor

Melitta Bentz founded her company, M. Bentz, in 1908 after she invented and patented the drip brew paper coffee filter in the same year. She later ran the company as a family business. Her husband Hugo and their sons Horst and Willi were the first employees.

In 1910, the company won a gold medal at the International Health Exhibition and a silver medal at the Saxon Innkeepers’ Association. When World War I erupted in 1914, metals were requisitioned for use in the construction of the zeppelin.

Then her husband Hugo was conscripted to Romania, the paper was rationed, and coffee beans import was impossible due to the British blockade, disrupting the normal business. During this time, Melitta supported herself by selling cartons.

After the war ended in 1918, and by 1928, the demand for the Melitta products was so high that the 80 workers had to work in a double-shift system to meet the demand. The family moved their business several times within Dresden due to expansion.

In 1929, the company moved to Minden in eastern Westphalia. By that time, over 100,000 filters had been produced.

In 1930, Melitta’s son, Horst, took over the company, now “Bentz & Sohn.” Melitta transferred the majority stake in Melitta-Werke Aktiengesellschaft to Horst and Willi in 1932, but she kept a hand in the business.

Melitta always made sure that the employees were cared for, offering Christmas bonuses, increasing vacation days from six to 15 days per year, and reducing the working week to five days. Melitta Bentz fostered the company’s Melitta Aid system, a social fund for company employees.

Then again, with the outbreak of World War II in 1939, production stopped. The company was ordered to produce goods to aid the war effort. At the end of the war in 1945, the workers relocated for a time to old factories, barracks, even pubs, because the surviving portions of the main factory had been requisitioned as a provisional administration for the Allied troops. This condition was held for twelve years.

By 1948, the normal production of filters and paper had resumed. At the time of Melitta’s death in 1950, the company had reached 4.7 million Deutsche Marks.

Invention of Melitta Bentz – Female German entrepreneur, inventor – Coffee Filter

In 1908, Melitta Bentz was a 35-year-old housewife from Dresden, Germany. She invented the first coffee filter. 

Melitta Bentz found that percolators were prone to over-brewing the coffee, espresso-type machines at the time tended to leave grounds in the drink, and linen bag filters were tiresome to clean.

After experimenting with different options, she thought the best was the blotting paper from her son Willi’s school exercise book and a brass pot perforated using a nail. Her invention made grounds-free, less bitter coffee and following her enthusiasm, she decided to set up a business. 

After contracting a tinsmith to manufacture the devices for the filters, they sold 1,200 coffee filters at the 1909 Leipzig Fair.

In the 1930s, Melitta revised her original filter invention, tapering it into the shape of a cone and adding ribs. This created a larger filtration area, allowing for improved extraction of the ground coffee. In 1936, the cone-shaped filter paper that fits inside the tapered filter top was introduced. The ‘102’ filter became the most popular.

Patents of Melitta Bentz – Female German entrepreneur, inventor

The Kaiserliche Patentamt (Imperial Patent Office) in Berlin granted Melitta Bentz a patent for her invention on July 8, 1908. On 15 December the company was commercially registered.

Death of Melitta Bentz – Female German entrepreneur, inventor

Melitta Bentz died on June 29, 1950, at the age of 77 in Porta Westfalica, West Germany.

Melitta Bentz’s grandchildren, Thomas and Stephen Bentz, still control the Melitta Group KG headquartered in Minden in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Group counts with some 3,300 employees in 50 global companies.  

17. Female Inventor Edith Clarke – Female American electrical engineer, inventor of Clarke calculator 

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Edith Clarke was born on February 10, 1883, in Howard County, Maryland. She was one of the nine children of John Ridgely Clarke and Susan Dorsey Owings.

She was only 12 when she was left orphaned and was raised by her older sister. With a vision into her future, Edith used her inheritance to study mathematics and astronomy at Vassar College, where she graduated in 1908.

After graduation, Clarke taught mathematics and physics at a private school in San Francisco and also at Marshall College. Passionate about engineering, Edith spent some time studying civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, in 1912, she left her studies to become a  human computer at AT&T. 

Edith computed for George Campbell, who applied mathematical methods to the problems of long-distance electrical transmissions. Keeping her job at AT&T, Edith decided to continue her studies and take evening classes in electrical engineering at Columbia University. 

In 1918, Edith enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) In 1919, she became the first woman to earn an M.S. in electrical engineering from MIT.

Career of Edith Clarke – Female American electrical engineer, inventor of Clarke calculator

Despite her MIT degree in electrical engineering, Edith was not able to find work. In the early 1920s, it was uncommon for a woman to be an electrical engineer. Edith then went to work for General Electric (GE) as a supervisor of computers in the Turbine Engineering Department.

In 1948, Edith Clarke observed: “There is no demand for women engineers, as such, as there are for women doctors; but there’s always a demand for anyone who can do a good piece of work.” – Edith Clarke

In 1921, Edith was still unable to obtain a position as an engineer. Disappointed after her effort of working by day and studying by night, Edith left GE to go back to teaching, a more socially acceptable position for a woman at the time.

Edith taught physics at the Constantinople Women’s College in Turkey. The next year, Edith was re-hired by General Electric as an electrical engineer in the Central Station Engineering Department.

In 1945, Edith Clarke retired from General Electric.

In 1947, Edith joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Texas becoming the first female professor of Electrical Engineering in the United States. Edith taught for ten years before retiring in 1957.

Invention of Edith Clarke – Female American electrical engineer, inventor of Clarke calculator

In 1921, during her time working for General Electric, Edith invented the Clarke calculator. Her invention was a simple graphical device that solved equations involving electric current, voltage, and impedance in power transmission lines. The innovative device could solve line equations involving hyperbolic functions ten times faster than previous methods.

Patents of Edith Clarke – Female American electrical engineer, inventor of Clarke calculator

Edith Clarke filed a patent for the invention of her calculator on June 8, 1921. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted her the U.S. patent number 1,552,113A on September 1, 1925.

Her invention was classified as:

G06G1/14: Hand manipulated computing devices in which a straight or curved line has to be drawn from given points on one or more input scales to one or more points on a result scale.

Edith’s patent was cited by two documents on other similar inventions.

Awards and Honors of Edith Clarke – Female American electrical engineer, inventor of Clarke calculator

Edith Clarke was a woman who obtained many first awards in her lifetime. Edith’s background in mathematics helped her achieve fame in her field. On February 8, 1926, Edith Clarke was the first woman to deliver a paper at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers’ (AIEE) annual meeting. There, she showed the use of hyperbolic functions for calculating the maximum power that a line could carry without instability.

Two of Edith’s later papers won awards from the AIEE: The Best Regional Paper Prize in 1932, and the Best National Paper Prize in 1941.

In 1943, Edith Clarke wrote an influential textbook in the field of power engineering, Circuit Analysis of A-C Power Systems, based on her notes for lectures to General Electric engineers.

Edith Clarke was the first female engineer to achieve professional standing in Tau Beta Pi. In 1948.

Edith was the first female Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. In 1954, she received the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award. In 2015, Edith Clarke was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

Death of Edith Clarke – Female American electrical engineer, inventor of Clarke calculator

Edith Clarke dies on October 29, 1959, at the age of 76.

18. Female Inventor Caresse Crosby (born Mary Phelps Jacob) – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor of the bra

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

Mary Phelps Jacob was born on April 20, 1891. She later was known as Caress Crosby and was the first to receive a patent for the modern bra. She was also an American patron of the arts, publisher, and the literary godmother to the Lost Generation of expatriate writers in Paris.

Marriages of Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

In 1915, Polly Jacob married Richard “Dick” Peabody, the grandson of Endicott Peabody, the founder of the Groton School. His family had been one of the wealthiest in America during the 19th century. By the early 20th century, it was said that the Peabody had supplanted the Cabots and the Lodges as the most distinguished name in the region.

Despite his wealth, Polly found Dick’s temperament, not in line with hers. On February 4, 1916, they had a son, William Jacob. Dick was not the most indulgent of parents and like his father before him, he forbade the gurgles and cries of infancy; whenever this happened, he walked out and often walked back unsteadily. He was not someone a new mother could rely on or share the responsibility of parenthood. Unfortunately, she learned this too late. Polly concluded that Dick was a well-educated but undirected man, and a reluctant father. No one she would like to spend her life with.

Less than a year later, he enlisted at the Mexican border and joined the Boston militia engaged in stopping Pancho Villa’s cross-border raids. He returned home less than a year later just to enlisted himself to fight in WWI. Surprisingly, on August 12, 1917, they had a second child,  a daughter called Poleen Wheatland known as Polly.

By then, Dick was already in Officers Training Camp at Plattsburgh, New York, where he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Artillery. It became evident that he had no intention to be rooted in a family.

Polly, disappointed, was largely cared for by his parents, but noted: “My father-in-law was a stickler for polish, both of manners and minerals.” Her mother-in-law wore “nun-like dresses and in bed or out wore starched cuffs as severe as piping.”

Her husband, meanwhile, was enjoying life at the front as a bachelor. As soon as Dick returned home in early 1921, he was assigned to Columbia, South Carolina. In this occasion, Polly and the children soon joined him. After the war had ended, Dick found himself left with nothing but a family allowance. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his war experiences and returned to drinking heavily.

Polly finally realized Dick had only three real interests, all acquired at Harvard: to play, to drink, and to turn out, at any hour, to chase after fire engines and watch buildings burn. Not much of a companion, husband, and father. Her life needed a change. 

She met Harry Crosby in 1920 and married him in 1922. After Harry died,  she married Selbert Young, an unemployed, alcoholic actor sixteen years her junior. She also began a long-term love affair with black actor-boxer Canada Lee.

Harry Crosby and Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

Polly and Harry Crosby met on July 4, 1920, at an Independence Day picnic. Polly was 28, married, with two small children. Harry was 22. Harry fell in love with Polly in about two hours.

He confessed his love for her in the Tunnel of Love at an amusement park. He seemed to fall in love pretty easily and frequently, though. So, Crosby pressed her to see him alone, an unthinkable proposition for a member of Boston’s upper crust.

However, on July 20, they spent the night together and had sex. Two days later Polly accompanied Harry to New York. Polly and Harry’s scandalous courtship was the gossip of blue-blood Boston.

Harry Crosby pursued Polly. In May 1921, when she would not respond to his ardor, Crosby threatened suicide if Polly did not marry him. Polly’s husband was in and out of sanitariums several times, fighting alcoholism.

In May, she revealed her adultery to Dick and suggested a separation to which he offered no resistance. Polly later described Harry’s character as: “He seemed to be more expression and mood, than man, yet he was the most vivid personality I’ve ever known, electric with rebellion.”

Polly married Harry on September 9, 1922, and they moved to Paris, France. Both Polly and Harry had multiple affairs and soon the couple agreed on having an open marriage. At her husband’s urging, Polly took the name Caresse in 1924.

In 1929, one of Harry’s affairs culminated in his death as part of a murder-suicide or double suicide at the studio of a friend. After this, Caress returned to Paris. 

Career of Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

Caress and her second husband, Harry Crosby, founded the Black Sun Press which was instrumental in publishing some of the early works of many emerging modernist authors including James Joyce, Kay Boyle, Ernest Hemingway, Hart Crane, D. H. Lawrence, and René Crevel, among others.

Invention of Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor – Bra

When Polly was 19 in 1910, Polly was preparing to attend a débutante ball one evening, a glamorous ball where a girl or young woman of an aristocratic or upper-class family comes out into society at a formal debut. Originally, the term meant the woman was old enough to be married, and part of the purpose of such ball was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select circle.

Young women had to look at their best for the occasion. As it was customary, Polly put on a corset stiffened with whalebone and a restrictive, tight corset cover that flattened and jammed her breasts together into a single monobosom. 

Her chosen gown was a sheer evening gown with a plunging neckline that displayed her cleavage. The corset cover, a boxlike armor of whalebone and pink cordage, poked out from under the gown. Then Polly called her personal maid and her to bring two of her pocket handkerchiefs and some pink ribbon, a needle and thread and some pins. With all that she fashioned the handkerchiefs and ribbon into a simple bra.

Mary’s new undergarment complemented the new fashions of the time, following a columnar silhouette introduced by the couturiers of Paris ate in by the end of the decade, which was signaling the approaching abandonment of the corset.

After the dance, Polly was approached by other girls who wanted to know how she moved so freely. When they saw Polly’s invention, they all wanted one. One day, Polly received a request from a stranger who offered a dollar if she could make one. She knew immediately then that her invention could become a profitable business. 

Herminie Cadolle, a Parisian couturier, had introduced a breast supporter in 1889. His design was a sensation at the Great Exposition of 1900. It became a fast-selling design among wealthy Europeans in the next decade.

Patents of Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

On February 12, 1914, Polly filed for a patent for her invention. In November that year the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted her a patent for the Backless Brassiere. Her design had shoulder straps which attached to the garment’s upper and lower corners, and wrap-around laces attached at the lower corners which tied in the woman’s front, enabling her to wear gowns cut low in the back.

Polly wrote that her invention was well-adapted to women of different size and was so efficient that it may be worn by persons engaged in a violent exercise like tennis. Her design was lightweight, soft, comfortable to wear, and naturally separated the breasts, unlike the corset, which was heavy, stiff, uncomfortable, and had the effect of creating a single or monobosom effect.

Polly’s design was the first granted a patent within its category. However, in the 1860s, the U.S. Patent Office and foreign patent offices had already issued patents for various bra-like undergarments. By 1910, their brassiere designs had previously been invented and popularized for their practical use within the United States.  

By the time Polly her autobiography, The Passionate Years, she wrote that she had “a few hundred (units) of her design produced.” She managed to secure a few orders from department stores, however, her business never took off. Harry Crosby, her second husband, discouraged her from pursuing the business and persuaded her to close it. 

“I can’t say the brassiere will ever take as great a place in history as the steamboat, but I did invent it.” – Caresse Crosby 

Polly sold the brassiere patent to The Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut for $1,500. Warner manufactured the Crosby bra for a while. Finally, it was discontinued because it was not a popular style. Warner earned more than $15 million from the bra patent over the next thirty years. 

Caresse Crosby’s Fashion Form Brassière Company – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

After Polly became a married woman when she married her first husband Richard Peabody, she filed a legal certificate with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on May 19, 1920. In the document, she declared that she was a married woman conducting a business of her own using separate funds from her husband’s bank account.

Polly then founded the Fashion Form Brassière Company. Her manufacturing shop was located on Washington Street, in Boston, where she opened a two-women sweatshop that manufactured her wireless brassière during 1922. The location also served as a convenient place for hiding her romantic encounters with Harry Crosby, her future second husband. 

Death of Caresse Crosby – Female American publisher, activist, writer, inventor

Caresse Crosby died of pneumonia related to heart disease in Rome, in 1970.

19. Female Inventor Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist, discoverer of artificial radioactivity

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Smithonian Institution/Flickr


Biography (Life) of Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist

Irène Curie was born on September 12, 1897, in Paris, France. She was the daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie. Her education began when she was 10 years old. A year later, her mother Marie Curie realized her obvious mathematical talent and decided that Irène’s academic abilities needed a more challenging environment.

Marie Curie joined forces with a number of eminent French scholars, including the prominent French physicist Paul Langevin to form The Cooperative, a private gathering of some of the most distinguished academics in France.

Each contributed to educating one another’s children in their respective homes. The curriculum of the principles of science and scientific research, Chinese, and sculpture. Self-expression and play were also valued.

From 1912 to 1914, Irène re-entered a more orthodox learning environment at the Collège Sévigné in central Paris from 1912 to 1914 and then onto the Faculty of Science at the Sorbonne. Irène studies at the Faculty of Science were interrupted by World War I. After the war, Irène returned to Paris to study at the Radium Institute, which had been built by her parents. Her doctoral thesis was concerned with the alpha decay of polonium, the element discovered by her parents In 1925, Irène became Doctor of Science. Irène and Frédéric Joliot married in 1926 and hyphenated their surnames to Joliot-Curie.

Research of Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist

From 1928 Joliot-Curie and her husband Frédéric combined their research on the study of atomic nuclei. 

In 1938, Irène’s research on the action of neutrons on the heavy elements was an important step in the discovery of uranium fission. Appointed lecturer in 1932, she became Professor in the Faculty of Science in Paris in 1937, and afterward Director of the Radium Institute in 1946.

Being a Commissioner for Atomic Energy for six years, Irène took part in its creation and in the construction of the first French atomic pile in 1948. Irène was concerned in the inauguration of the large center for nuclear physics at Orsay for which she worked out the plans. This center was equipped with a synchro-cyclotron of 160 MeV, and its construction was continued after her death by F. Joliot.

Discoveries and Inventions of Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist

Irène’s group pioneered research into radium nuclei that led a separate group of German physicists, led by Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, and Fritz Strassman, to discover nuclear fission: the splitting of the nucleus itself, emitting vast amounts of energy. Lise Meitner’s now-famous calculations actually disproved Irène’s results to show that nuclear fission was possible.

Discovery of Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist –  Artificial Radioactivity

Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie jointly discovered artificial radioactivity. The Curies are the family with the most Nobel laureates to date.

Patents of Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist

No patents registered.

Awards and Honors of  Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist

Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 for the discovery of artificial radioactivity with Frederic Joliot-Curie

– Barnard College Gold Medal for Meritorious Service to Science 1940 with Frederic Joliot-Curie

– Officer of the Legion of Honor

– Professorship at the Faculty of Science.

Death of  Irène Joliot-Curie – Female French scientist, chemist

Working so closely with radioactive materials finally caught up with Joliot-Curie. She was diagnosed with leukemia after she was accidentally exposed to polonium when a sealed capsule of the element exploded on her laboratory bench in 1946.

Treatment with antibiotics and a series of operations relieved her suffering temporarily, however, her condition continued to deteriorate.  Irène Joliot-Curie died in Paris on March 17, 1956. She was only 58. 

20. Female Inventor Marjorie Joyner – Female American businessperson, inventor of the Permanent wave machine

Marjorie Stewart was born on October 24, 1896, in Monterey, Virginia. She was an African American businesswoman and inventor. She was the granddaughter of a slave and a white slave-owner.

Marjorie studying cosmetology and graduated from A.B. Molar Beauty School in Chicago in 1916 becoming the first African American graduate from this school. After graduation, she married podiatrist Robert E. Joyner on the same year and opened her first beauty salon.  

In 1973, at the age of 77, Marjorie was awarded a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

Career of Marjorie Joyner – Female American businessperson, inventor

Marjorie met Madame C. J. Walker, an African American entrepreneur and the first female self-made millionaire, and went to work for her as the national beauty advisor and overseeing 200 of Madame C. J. Walker’s beauty schools. Marjorie taught over 15,000 stylists over her fifty-year career and was also a leader in developing new products, including her permanent wave machine. 

Marjorie Joyner was friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and helped found the National Council of Negro Women. in the 1940s, Marjorie was also an advisor to the Democratic National Committee and advised several New Deal agencies trying to reach out to black women. She was head of the Chicago Defender Charity network and fundraiser for various schools.

Marjorie helped write the first cosmetology laws for the state of Illinois. On October 27, 1945, she founded the Alpha Chi Pi Omega sorority and fraternity and the National Association for Black Beauticians. In 1967, Marjorie co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association. 

In 1987, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. opened an exhibition featuring Marjorie Joyner’s permanent wave machine as well as a replica of her original salon. 

Invention of Marjorie Joyner – Female American businessperson, inventor – Permanent Wave Machine

In 1939, Marjorie took inspiration from a pot roast cooking with paper pins to quicken preparation time to look for an easy solution to curl women’s hair.

She started experimenting with paper rods before she designed a table that could be used to both curl and straighten hair by wrapping it on rods above the person’s head.

This new method allowed hairstyles to last several days. To make the process more comfortable, Marjorie improved it by creating a scalp protector that the lady would wear while is curling her hair. 

Marjorie Joyner’s permanent wave machine was popular in salons across the country with both African American and white women.  In 1967, she co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association. 

Patents of Marjorie Joyner – Female American businessperson, inventor

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Marjorie Joyner patent number 1,693,515 for the invention of her permanent wave machine. However, the patent was credited to the Madame C. J. Walker’s Company and she received almost no money for it.

Death of Marjorie Joyner – Female American businessperson, inventor

Marjorie Stewart Joyner died of heart failure on December 27, 1994. She was 98. In 1987, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington opened an exhibit featuring Joyner’s permanent wave machine and a replica of her original salon.

21. Female Inventor Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor of Invisible Glass

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Smithonian Institution/Flickr

Biography (Life) of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Katharine Burr Blodgett was born in Schenectady, New York on January 10, 1898. She was the second child of Katharine Burr and George Blodgett, a patent lawyer for the General Electric Company. Katharine’s father was killed only a few weeks before she was born. Her father’s death left more than a sufficient amount of wealth to the family.

The family first moved to New York City, then to France in 1901, and then back to New York City in 1912, where Katharine completed her schooling from the Rayson School and developed an early interest in mathematics. She completed high school at the age of fifteen and earned a scholarship to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. degree in 1917.

Career of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Katharine searched for employment opportunities at the Schenectady General Electric plant. Some of her father’s former colleagues in Schenectady introduced her to research chemist Irving Langmuir who recognized her aptitude and advised her to continue her scientific education. So, she went on to pursue a master’s degree in science. She became the first woman to be ever awarded a doctorate in physics from Cambridge University.

General Electric Career of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Katharine Burr Blodgett became the first woman to be hired as a scientist at General Electric. 

Inventions of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Irving Langmuir played an important role in Katherine’s future since he encouraged her to participate in some of his earlier discoveries. Her first task at General Electric was to perfect the tungsten filaments in electric lamps, which she did.

In 1916, Katharine received a patent for perfecting tungsten filaments in electric lamps.  Later on, he asked her to concentrate her studies on surface chemistry.

During the Second World War Katherine Burr Blodgett made another outstanding breakthrough: the smoke screens. The smoke screens saved many lives by covering the troops thereby protecting them from the exposure of toxic smoke.

Invention of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor – Invisible Glass

Katharine Burr Blodgett’s most important contribution came from her independent research on an oily substance that Irving Langmuir had developed in the lab. Measuring this unusual substance was only accurate to a few thousandths of an inch but Katharine’s new way proved to be accurate to about one-millionth of an inch. In 1938, her new discovery of measuring transparent objects led to her invention of non-reflecting glass.

This invisible glass became a very effective device for physicists, chemists, and metallurgists. It was put to use in many consumer products from picture frames to camera lenses and has also been exceptionally helpful in optics.

Patents of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Katharine Burr Blodgett had been issued a total of eight U.S. patents during her career. She was the sole inventor on all but two of them. 

Awards and Honors of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Katharine Burr Blodgett received many awards, including the Garvan Medal in 1951. She also earned honorary degrees from Elmira College in 1939, Brown University in 1942, Western College in1942, and Russell Sage College in 1944. Katharine was nominated to be part of the American Physical Society and was a member of the Optical Society of America.

Death of Katharine Burr Blodgett – Female American scientific researcher, inventor

Katharine Burr Blodgett died in her home on October 12, 1979. She was 81. 

22. Female Inventor Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor of the thermoelectric power generator

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Library of Congress

Biography (Life) of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor

Mária Telkes was born in Budapest, Hungary on December 12, 1900. She moved to the United States after completing her Ph.D. in physical chemistry.

Career of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor

Mária Telkes worked as a biophysicist in the United States, From 1939 to 1953, she was involved in solar energy research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In the 1970s, Mária moved to Texas where she consulted with a variety of startup solar companies including Northrup Solar, which subsequently became ARCO Solar, and BP Solar.

Inventions of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor

Mária invented quite many practical thermal devices, including a miniature desalination unit for use on lifeboats, which used solar power and condensation to collect potable solar still. This invention saved the lives of airmen and sailors who would have been without water when abandoned at sea. 

One of Mária’s specialties were phase-change materials, including molten salts to store thermal energy. Glauber’s salt was one of her preferred materials.

Mária Telkes is considered one of the founders of solar thermal storage systems. For this reason, she is known as the Sun Queen.

Invention of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor – thermoelectric power generator

In 1947, Mária Telkes created the first thermoelectric power generator, designing the first solar heating system for the Dover Sun House in Dover, Massachusetts.

She built it entirely with solar heating together with the architect Eleanor Raymond. In 1953, she built the first thermoelectric refrigerator in 1953 using the principles of semiconductor thermoelectricity.

Patents of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor

Mária Telkes was granted seven U.S. patents for her inventions:

Eutectic composition for coolness storage

Thermal energy storage to increase furnace efficiency

Phase change thermal storage materials with the crust forming stabilizers

Solar heating method and apparatus

Selective black for absorption of solar energy

Cooling system

Thixotropic mixture and method of making same

Awards and Honors of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor

– 1952 – Society of Women Engineers Award

– 1977 – American Solar Energy Society, Charles Greeley Abbot Award

– 2012 – Induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Death of Mária Telkes – Female Hungarian-American scientist and inventor

Mária Telkes died on December 2, 1995. She was 94. 

23. Female Inventor Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist, discoverer of genetic transposition

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of  Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist

Barbara McClintock was born on June 16, 1902, in Connecticut. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in Botany, specializing in cytogenetics, particularly the study of chromosomes in corn.

Career of  Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist

In 1931, Barbara and colleague Harriet Creighton published A Correlation of Cytological and Genetical Crossing-over in Zea mays, a paper that established that chromosomes formed the basis of genetics.

The Rockefeller Foundation funded Barbara’s research at Cornell from 1934 to 1936. After that, she was hired by the University of Missouri where she remained until 1941.

In the 1940s, by observing and experimenting with variations in the coloration of kernels of corn, Barbara discovered that genetic information is not stationary. By tracing pigmentation changes in corn and using a microscope to examine that plant’s large chromosomes, she was able to isolate two genes that she called controlling elements. These genes controlled the genes that were actually responsible for pigmentation.

Barbara McClintock found that the controlling elements could move along the chromosome to a different site and that these changes affected the behavior of neighboring genes. Her research and discoveries suggested that these transposable elements were responsible for new mutations in pigmentation or other characteristics.

Discovery of  Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist – Gemetic Transposition

Too ahead of her time, Barbara McClintock discovered the role of controlling elements in genetic regulation and transposition in the 1940s and 1950s. Deeply disappointed with her colleagues because her work was considered too radical and simply ignored, sadly she stopped publishing the results of her work and ceased giving lectures, though she continued doing research. 

The rediscovery of the Work of  Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Barbara McClintock’s work was replicated after biologists determined that the genetic material was DNA. Members of the scientific community began to verify her early findings. Finally, McClintock’s work was recognized and she was inundated with awards and honors.

Awards and Honors of  Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist

In 1983, Barbara McClintock won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her study of corn chromosomes, which revolutionized the field of cytogenetics. Barbara was the first woman to be the sole winner of this award.

In 1939, based on her experiments and publications during the 1930s, McClintock was elected vice president of the Genetics Society of America and president of the Genetics Society in 1944.

Barbara received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1933 to study in Germany, but she left early because of the rise of Nazism.

Death of Barbara McClintock – Female American scientist and cytogeneticist

Barbara McClintock died on September 2, 1992, in New York.  

24. Female Inventor Ruth Graves Wakefield – Female American chef, author, inventor of chocolate chip cookie

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Renee Comett/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Ruth Graves Wakefield – Female American chef, author, inventor

Ruth Graves Wakefield was an American chef, an educator, a business owner, an author, and the inventor of the first chocolate chip cookie.

Ruth Graves was born on June 17, 1903, in Easton, Massachusetts. After high school, Ruth continued her education at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts, from where she graduated in 1924. Ruth married Kenneth Donald Wakefield and a son, Keneth Donald Wakefield Jr.

Career of Ruth Graves Wakefield – Female American chef, author, inventor

Ruth worked as a dietitian and lectured about foods at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts, from where she had graduated in 1924. 

In 1930, Ruth and her husband bought a tourist lodge in Whitman, Massachusetts. They opened the business as the Toll House Inn. They came up with this name because it had been a place where passengers had historically paid a toll, changed horses, and ate home-cooked meals.

Ruth cooked and served home-cooked food and soon her lobster dinners and desserts gained local fame. Famous visitors, including former United States President and Senator John F. Kennedy, enjoyed Ruth’s meals. Ruth’s chocolate chip cookies were very popular and unique.

Ruth Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes. From 1930, Ruth’s book went through 39 printings with the 1938 edition of the cookbook including the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie, for the first time.

Invention of Ruth Graves Wakefield – Female American chef, author, inventor – Toll House Cookie

In 1938, Ruth invented the first chocolate chip cookie by adding chopped up bits form Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie dough. Despite it is sometimes incorrectly reported that the invention was an accident, Ruth deliberately invented the cookie when she wanted to create something different from what she usually offered. 

“We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream. Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with Toll House cookie.” -Ruth Wakefield

During WWII, U.S. local soldiers from Massachusetts shared the cookies they received in care packages from back home with other American soldiers. At it always happens with chocolate chip cookies, they were comforting in difficult times.

Pretty soon, hundreds of U.S. soldiers were writing home asking their families to send some Toll House cookies. Then American soldiers started to share the sweet comforting cookie with people from other countries.

Soon Ruth began to receive letters from all over the world requesting her recipe. And that’s how the worldwide craze for Ruth’s chocolate chip cookie began. Eighty years after its creation, the chocolate chip cookie continues to be today a favorite enjoyed by both adults and children around the world. 

Patents of Ruth Graves Wakefield – Female American chef, author, inventor

The popularity of the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie exponentially increased, and so did the sales of Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate bars.

Even though Ruth had not patented the invention of her cookie, Andrew Nestlé and Ruth Wakefield made a business arrangement in which Ruth gave Nestlé the right to use her cookie recipe and the Toll House name for one dollar (yes, $1), and Ruth would receive a lifetime supply of Nestlé chocolate. 

Nestlé began producing and marketing chocolate chips to be used especially for cookies and printed the recipe for the Toll House Cookie on its package. And everybody then was able to bake their own chocolate chip cookies following Ruth’s recipe.   

Death of Ruth Graves Wakefield – Female American chef, author, inventor

Aged 73, Ruth Graves Wakefield died on January 10, 1977. In 2018, The New York Times published a belated obituary, part of the publication’s  Overlookedwhere they add stories of remarkable people who were not included in the obituaries the paper has been publishing since 1851.

25. Female Inventor Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, United States Navy rear admiral, inventor of first computer language compiler

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor

Grace Murray-Hopper was a computer pioneer and naval officer.

Grace Murray-Hopper was born in New York City on December 9, 1906. Grace was very curious as a child. When she was seven, she decided to determine how an alarm clock worked and dismantled seven alarm clocks before for her research.

After that, she was limited to one clock. For her preparatory school education, she attended the Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and earned her master’s degree at Yale University in 1930.

In 1934, she earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale. Her dissertation, New Types of Irreducibility Criteria, was published that same year. In 1931, Grace Hopper began teaching mathematics at Vassar in 1931 and was promoted to associate professor in 1941.

Grace was married to New York University professor Vincent Foster Hopper from 1930 until their divorce in 1945. Grace did not marry again. However, she chose to retain his surname.

Career of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor

“You don’t manage people; you manage things. You lead people.” -Admiral Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper had tried to enlist in the Navy early in World War II. However, she was rejected for multiple reasons. At age 34, she was too old to enlist, and her weight to height ratio was too low. She was also denied on the basis that her job as a mathematician and mathematics professor at Vassar College was valuable to the war effort. 

Determined, during the war in 1943, Hopper was sworn into the United States Navy Reserve. She was one of many women who volunteered to serve in the WAVES. She had to get an exemption to enlist; she was 15 pounds (6.8 kg) below the Navy minimum weight of 120 pounds (54 kg).

Grace reported in December and trained at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Grace Hopper graduated first in her class in 1944 and was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University as a lieutenant, junior grade.

She served on the Mark I computer programming staff headed by Howard H. Aiken. Hopper and Aiken co-authored three papers on the Mark I, also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. Hopper’s request to transfer to the regular Navy at the end of the war was declined due to her advanced age of 38.

She continued to serve in the Navy Reserve. Hopper remained at the Harvard Computation Lab until 1949, turning down a full professorship at Vassar in favor of working as a research fellow under a Navy contract at Harvard.

Mark I Career of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor

After receiving her commission (lieutenant junior grade), Hopper was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University where she joined a team working on the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, better known as the MARK I, the first electromechanical computer in the United States.

Under the guidance of Howard Aiken, who had developed the MARK I, Hopper and her colleagues worked on top-secret calculations essential to the war effort computing rocket trajectories, creating range tables for new anti-aircraft guns, and calibrating minesweepers.

Hopper was one of the first three coders (now known as programmers). Hopper also wrote the 561-page user manual for the MARK I.

UNIVAC Career of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor

In 1949, Grace Hopper became an employee of the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician and joined the team developing the UNIVAC I. 

Hopper also served as UNIVAC director of Automatic Programming Development for Remington Rand. The UNIVAC was the first known large-scale electronic computer to be on the market in 1950 and was more competitive at processing information than the Mark I.

Hopper recommended the development of a new programming language that would use entirely English words. She was quickly told that computers didn’t understand English.

Her idea was not accepted for 3 years, and she published her first paper on the subject, compilers, in 1952. In the early 1950s, the company was taken over by the Remington Rand Corporation, and it was while she was working for them that her original compiler work was done.

The program was known as the A compiler and its first version was A-0. In 1952, she had an operational link-loader, which at the time was referred to as a compiler. She later said that “Nobody believed that,” and that she “had a running compiler and nobody would touch it.

They told me computers could only do arithmetic.” She goes on to say that her compiler “translated mathematical notation into machine code. Manipulating symbols was fine for mathematicians but it was no good for data processors who were not symbol manipulators.

Very few people are really symbol manipulators. If they are they become professional mathematicians, not data processors. It’s much easier for most people to write an English statement than it is to use symbols.

So Grace decided data processors ought to be able to write their programs in English, and the computers would translate them into machine code.

That was the beginning of COBOL, a computer language for data processors. You could say “Subtract income tax from pay” instead of trying to write that in octal code or using all kinds of symbols. COBOL is the major language used today in data processing.

In 1954, Grace Hopper was named the company’s first director of automatic programming, and her department released some of the first compiler-based programming languages, including MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC.

Invention of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor – COBOL

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” -Grace Hopper

In the spring of 1959, computer experts from industry and government were brought together in a two-day conference known as the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL). Grace Hopper served as a technical consultant to the committee.

Many of her former employees served on the short-term committee that defined the new language COBOL (an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language). The new language extended Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language with some ideas from the IBM equivalent, COMTRAN.

Hopper’s belief that programs should be written in a language that was close to English (rather than in machine code or in languages close to machine code, such as assembly languages) was captured in the new business language, and COBOL went on to be the most ubiquitous business language to date. 

From 1967 to 1977, Grace Hopper served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy’s Office of Information Systems Planning. Grace was promoted to the rank of captain in 1973. She developed validation software for COBOL and its compiler as part of a COBOL standardization program for the entire Navy.

Awards and Honors of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor

Rear Admiral Hopper was the recipient of more than forty honorary degrees, and many scholarships, professorships, awards, and conferences are named in her honor. In 1972 she received Yale’s Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal awarded to outstanding alumni. In 1973, she became the first woman and the first American to become a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.

In 1991, President George Bush awarded Hopper the National Medal of Technology “for her pioneering accomplishments in the development of computer programming languages that simplified computer technology and opened the door to a significantly larger universe of users;” she was the first woman to receive the nation’s highest technology award as an individual.

In 1996, the Navy commissioned the USS Hopper, a guided military destroyer. In 2016, Hopper posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of her “lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.”

Death of Grace Hopper – Female American computer scientist, inventor

On New Year’s Day 1992, Grace Hopper died in her sleep of natural causes. She was at her home in Arlington, Virginia. She was 85. Grace Hopper was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

26. Female Inventor Maria Goeppert-Mayer – Female German-born American scientist, the theoretical physicist, develope of nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
 Source: Nobel Prize Foundation/Wikimedia Commons 

“Some [schools] even condescended to give her work, though they refused to pay her, and the topics were typically ‘feminine’, such as figuring out what causes colors. The University of Chicago finally took her seriously enough to make her a professor of physics. Although she got her own office, the department still didn’t pay her. When the Swedish academy announced in 1963 that she had won her profession’s highest honor, the San Diego newspaper greeted her big day with the headline “S.D. Mother Wins Nobel Prize”

 Maria Goeppert-Mayer was born on June 28, 1906, in Kattowitz, Upper Silesia, Poland.

On January 19, 1930, Maria Goeppert married Joseph Edward Mayer, an American Rockefeller fellow. The two had met when Mayer had boarded with the Goeppert family. 

The couple moved to the United States, where he had been offered a position as associate professor of chemistry at Johns Hopkins University.

Career of Maria Goeppert-Mayer – Female German-born American scientist, theoretical physicist

Johns Hopkins University didn’t hire Maria Goeppert Mayer as a faculty member. Instead, she was given a job as an assistant in the Physics Department working with German correspondence.

She received a very small salary, a place to work, and access to the facilities. She taught some courses, and in 1935, published an important paper on double beta decay.

There was little interest in quantum mechanics at Johns Hopkins. Goeppert Mayer worked with Karl Herzfeld, collaborating on a number of papers. She also returned to Göttingen in the summers of 1931, 1932, and 1933 to work with her former examiner Born, writing an article with him for the Handbuch der Physik.

This ended when the NSDAP came to power in 1933, and many academics, including Born and Franck, lost their jobs. Goeppert Mayer and Herzfeld became involved in refugee relief efforts.

Joseph Mayer was fired in 1937. Mayer took up a position at Columbia University, where the chairman of the Physics Department, George B. Pegram, arranged for Maria Goeppert Mayer to have an office, but she received no salary.

Maria soon made good friends with Harold Urey and Enrico Fermi, who arrived at Columbia in 1939. Fermi asked her to investigate the valence shell of the undiscovered transuranic elements. Using the Thomas–Fermi model, Maria predicted that they would form a new series similar to the rare earth elements. This proved to be correct.

Invention of Maria Goeppert-Mayer – Female German-born American scientist, theoretical physicist – Nuclear Shell Model

“Think of a room full of waltzers. Suppose they go round the room in circles, each circle enclosed within another. Then imagine that in each circle, you can fit twice as many dancers by having one pair go clockwise and another pair go counterclockwise. Then add one more variation; all the dancers are spinning twirling round and round like tops as they circle the room, each pair both twirling and circling. But only some of those that go counterclockwise are twirling counterclockwise. The others are twirling clockwise while circling counterclockwise. The same is true of those that are dancing around clockwise: some twirl clockwise, others twirl counterclockwise.” -Maria Goeppert-Mayer, explaining spin orbit coupling on her nuclear shell model.

In the late 1940s, Maria Goeppert Mayer developed a mathematical model for the structure of nuclear shells, which she published in 1950. Maria’s model explained why certain numbers of nucleons in an atomic nucleus result in particularly stable configurations.

These numbers are what Eugene Wigner called magic numbers: 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, and 126. Enrico Fermi provided a critical insight by asking Maria: “Is there any indication of spin orbit coupling?” She realized that this was indeed the case, that the nucleus is a series of closed shells, and pairs of neutrons and protons tend to couple together. She went on describing the idea beautifully. (see quote).

Awards and Honors of Maria Goeppert-Mayer – Female German-born American scientist, theoretical physicist

Three German scientists, Otto Haxel, J. Hans D. Jensen, and Hans Suess, were also working on solving the same nuclear shell model Maria was working, and they all arrived at the same conclusion independently. However, their results were announced in the issue of the Physical Review before Goeppert Mayer’s announcement in June 1949. 

However, she later collaborated with them. In 1963, Goeppert Mayer, Jensen, and Wigner shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure. Maria Goeppert-Mayer was the second female Nobel laureate in physics, after Marie Curie.

Death of Maria Goeppert-Mayer – Female German-born American scientist, theoretical physicist

Maria Goeppert Mayer died in San Diego, California, on February 20, 1972, after a heart attack that had struck her the previous year left her comatose. She was buried at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego.

27. Female Inventor Virginia Apgar – Female American scientist, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor of Apgar score

Dr. Virginia Apgar developed a simple, rapid method for assessing newborn viability, the Apgar score, which has long been a standard practice adopted by obstetric teams. The Apgar Score method reduced infant mortality and laid the foundations of neonatology.

Virginia Apgar was born on June 7, 1909, in Westfield, New Jersey. Virginia was the youngest of the three children of Charles E. Apgar, an insurance executive, and Helen May Apgar. Virginia learned to play the violin as a child, a practice she continued throughout her life.

Virginia’s early interest in science and medicine were perhaps inspired by her father, who was an amateur inventor and astronomer. By the time Virginia was in high school, she had already decided to pursue a medical career. Virginia graduated from Westfield High School in 1925 and entered Mount Holyoke College the same year, where she majored in zoology at the same time she got a number of part-time jobs to support herself.

Her rapid speech and seemingly endless energy became her trademark in college. She seemed to have time for everything. Virginia played on seven sports teams, reported for the college newspaper, acted in dramatic productions, and played violin in the orchestra.

Despite the time and energy devoted to all these activities, her academic work was exceptional. In her last year, her zoology professor and advisor noted: “It is seldom that one finds a student so thoroughly immersed in her subject and with such a wide knowledge of it.”

Virginia traveled with her violin, often playing in amateur chamber quartets wherever she happened to be. During the 1950s a friend introduced her to instrument-making, and together they made two violins, a viola, and a cello.

Virginia’s other hobbies included gardening, fly-fishing, golfing, and stamp collecting. In her fifties, Virginia Apgar started taking flying lessons; her goal was to someday fly under New York’s George Washington Bridge.

Career of Virginia Apgar – Female American scientist, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor

In 1929, Virginia Apgar received her AB from Mount Holyoke and began her medical training at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S). She was one of only nine women in a class of ninety.

Virginia completed her MD in 1933 and started a two-year surgical internship at Presbyterian Hospital (currently New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center).

Virginia’s performance in surgery was impeccable. However, after her first year her mentor, Allen Whipple, suggested that because she was a woman she should pursue anesthesiology instead.

At the time, anesthesiology was just beginning to take shape as a medical specialty. Virginia decided to accept this advice, and, after her second year of internship, she trained for a year at the Presbyterian’s nurse-anesthetist program.

After that, she attended residency programs headed by Ralph Waters at the University of Wisconsin and Emery Rovenstine at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.

In 1938, she returned to the Presbyterian Hospital as director of a new Division of Anesthesia within the Department of Surgery. Virginia was the first woman to head a division at Presbyterian.

There, Virginia was responsible for the recruitment and training of anesthesiology residents, teaching medical students who rotated through the anesthesia service and coordinating anesthesia work and research at the hospital.

During the next eleven years, Virginia Apgar transformed the anesthesia service at Presbyterian into one staffed with physicians rather than nurses, and established the anesthesiology education program there, in the process becoming a legendary and much-beloved teacher.

In 1949, the Division of Anesthesiology became a department. After all the work and effort she had put into it, Virginia Apgar expected to be named chair, but the position was given to a male colleague, Emanuel Papper.

Virginia Apgar, however, was appointed a full professor of anesthesiology at P&S. She was the first woman to hold that rank there. Free of administrative duties, Virginia continued to teach and devoted more time to research in obstetrical anesthesia.

Virginia was especially interested in the effects of maternal anesthesia on the newborn, and in lowering the neonatal mortality rates.

“Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me!”
–Dr. Virginia Apgar, in 1950s, explaining why she kept basic resuscitation equipment with her at all times.

Virginia regularly traveled each year to speak to widely varied audiences about the importance of early detection of birth defects and the need for more research in this area. She was an excellent ambassador for the National Foundation, and the annual income of that organization more than doubled during her tenure there.

From 1967 to 1868, Virginia also served the National Foundation as Director of Basic Medical Research and Vice-President for Medical Affairs from 1971 to 1974.

From 1965 to 1971, Virginia Apgar was also a lecturer and from 1971 to 1971, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Cornell University School of Medicine, where she taught teratology (the study of birth defects).

She was the first to hold a faculty position in this new area of pediatrics. In 1973, Virginia was appointed lecturer in medical genetics at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Virginia Apgar published over sixty scientific articles and numerous shorter essays for newspapers and magazines during her career, along with her book, Is My Baby All Right?

Invention of Virginia Apgar – Female American scientist, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor – Apgar Score

From 1950 to 1952, Virginia Apgar devised and tested a scoring method to quickly assess the health of newborn children immediately after birth. The method, published in 1952, was later known as the Apgar Score. In 1953, Virginia published her first article on the Apgar Score.

The Apgar score is based on a total score of 1 to 10. The higher the score, the better the baby is doing after birth. A score of 7, 8, or 9 is normal and is a sign that the newborn is in good health. The Apgar Score is based on the baby’s heart rate, respiration, movement, irritability, and color one minute after birth.

By the late 1950s, Dr. Virginia Apgar had attended over 17,000 births. In the course of refining the scoring system, she had encountered many cases of birth defects, and she began to correlate these with each other and with the scores. 

Dr. Apgar worked with L. Stanley James, Duncan Holaday, and others to relate Apgar Scores to the effects of labor, delivery, and maternal anesthesia practices.

Their resulting work on neonatal blood chemistry provided physiological support for the value of Apgar testing immediately after birth. The Apgar evaluation became standard practice and is now performed on all children born in hospitals worldwide.

Patents of Virginia Apgar – Female American scientist, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor

Virginia Apgar did not register any patents for her invention. 

Awards and Honors of Virginia Apgar – Female American scientist, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor

Dr. Virginia Apgar received many awards during her lifetime including honorary doctorates from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1964, and Mount Holyoke College in 1965, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award from the American Medical Women’s Association in 1966, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 1966, the Alumni Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1973, and the Ralph M.

Waters Award from the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 1973. In 1973, Virginia was also elected Woman of the Year in Science by the Ladies Home Journal. She was honored with a commemorative U.S. postage stamp in 1994, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

Death of Virginia Apgar – Female American scientist, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor

As one can imagine due to her dedication, Dr. Virginia Apgar never retired and remained active until shortly before her death. However, the very active Virginia was slowed down by progressive liver disease during her final years.

Dr. Virginia Apgar died on August 7, 1974, at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, a place she knew very well, where she had trained and then worked for much of her life.

Those who knew her remembered her as much for her warmth, vivacity, and wicked sense of humor as for her sharp intelligence and professional competence. Without any doubt, a remarkable human being. 

28. Female Inventor Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist, discoverer of nerve growth factor (NGF)

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Presidency of Italian Republic/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist

Rita Levi-Montalcini was born on April 22, 1909, in Turin, Italy to a Sephardic Jewish family. She was an Italian Nobel laureate, honored for her work in neurobiology.

When Rita was a teenager, she considered becoming a writer and admired Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf. However, after seeing a close family friend die of stomach cancer she decided to attend the University of Turin Medical School. Her father discouraged his daughters from attending college because he feared it would disrupt their potential lives as wives and mothers, as if this were the only function for a woman’s life. Eventually he supported Rita’s aspirations to become a doctor. 

After graduating summa cum laude M.D. in 1936, Rita remained doing research at the university. However, her academic career was cut short by Benito Mussolini’s 1938 Manifesto of Race and the subsequent introduction of laws barring Jews from academic and professional careers. 

Not giving up on her important research, during World War II Rita set up a laboratory in her bedroom and studied the growth of nerve fibers in chicken embryos, which laid the groundwork for much of her later research. She described this experience decades later in the science documentary film Death by Design/The Life and Times of Life and Times published in 1997.

On April 22, 2009, Rita Levi-Montalcini became the first Nobel laureate ever to reach the age of 100. This was celebrated with a party at Rome’s City Hall. At the time of her death, Rita was the oldest living Nobel laureate.

Career of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist

Rita was made a full professor in 1958. In 1962, she established a second laboratory in Rome and divided her time between there and St. Louis.

From 1961 to 1969, she directed the Research Center of Neurobiology of the CNR (Rome), and from 1969 to 1978, the Laboratory of Cellular Biology. Rita retired in 1977. After retirement, she was appointed as director of the Institute of Cell Biology of the Italian National Council of Research in Rome. She later retired from that position in 1979. However, she continued to be involved as a guest professor. 

In the 1990s, Rita was one of the first scientists pointing out the importance of the mast cell in human pathology. In 1993, she identified the endogenous compound palmitoylethanolamide as an important modulator of this cell.

Rita Levi-Montalcini founded the European Brain Research Institute in 2002 and then served as its president. Rita’s role in this institute was at the center of some criticism from some parts of the scientific community in 2010. Those who can’t create, criticize.

Inventions and Discoveries of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist

In September 1946, Rita Levi-Montalcini was granted a one-semester research fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Viktor Hamburger at Washington University in St. Louis. He was impressed after she duplicated the results of her home laboratory experiments. Hamburger offered her a research associate position, which she held for 30 years. It was there that, in 1952, she did her most important work: isolating nerve growth factor (NGF) from observations of certain cancerous tissues that cause extremely rapid growth of nerve cells.

Discovery of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist – Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)

” … like rivulets of water flowing steadily over a bed of stones.” -Rita Levi-Montalcini, describing nerve growth factor

By transferring pieces of tumors to chicken embryos, Rita Levi-Montalcini established a mass of cells that was full of nerve fibers. The discovery of nerves growing everywhere like a halo around the tumor cells was surprising. Rita described it as follows:: “like rivulets of water flowing steadily over a bed of stones.”

The nerve growth produced by the tumor was unlike anything Rita had seen before. The nerves took over areas that would become other tissues and even entered veins in the embryo. However, nerves did not grow into the arteries, which would flow from the embryo back to the tumor. This suggested to Levi-Montalcini that the tumor itself was releasing a substance that was stimulating the growth of nerves.

Political Career of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist

On 1 August 2001, she was appointed as Senator for Life by the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Awards and Honors of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist

She was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with colleague Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF).

In 1966, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1968, she became the tenth woman elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences. 

She was elected an EMBO Member in 1974. Also in 1974, although a professed atheist, she became a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

In 1983, she was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University. Levi-Montalcini and collaborator Stanley Cohen received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. 

In 1987, she received the National Medal of Science, the highest American scientific honor. In 1991, she received the Laurea Honoris Causa in Medicine from the University of Trieste, Italy. 

She was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1995.

In 1999, Levi-Montalcini was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

In 2001, she was nominated Senator-for-life by the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

In 2006, Levi-Montalcini received the degree Honoris Causa in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin, in her native city.

In 2008, she received the Ph.D. Honoris Causa from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.

In 2009, she received the Leonardo da Vinci Award from European Academy of Sciences.

She was a founding member of Città della Scienza and Accademician of Studium, Accademia di Casale e del Monferrato, Italy.

Death of Rita Levi-Montalcini – Female Italian scientist, neurophysiologist

Levi-Montalcini never married and had no children. In a 2006 interview, she said: “I never had any hesitation or regrets in this sense. My life has been enriched by excellent human relations, work, and interests. I have never felt lonely.” 

She died in her home in Rome on December 30, 2012. She was 103.

29. Female Inventor Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist

Dorothy Crowfoot was born in Cairo on May 12th, 1910, where her father, John Winter Crowfoot, was working in the Egyptian Education Service.

When Dorothy was 10 years old, she became interested in chemistry and in crystals. This interest was encouraged by Dr. A.F. Joseph, a friend of her parents in Sudan, who gave her chemicals to analyze ilmenite.

Most of her childhood she spent with her sisters at Geldeston in Norfolk. From 1921 to 1928, Dorothy went to the Sir John Leman School, Beccles. One other girl, Norah Pusey, and Dorothy Crowfoot were allowed to join the boys doing chemistry at school with Miss Deeley as their teacher.

By the end of school, she had decided to study chemistry and possibly biochemistry at university.

At the age of 24, Dorothy began experiencing pain in her hands. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which would become progressively worse and crippling over time, with deformities in both her hands and feet.

In her last years, she spent a great deal of time in a wheelchair but remained scientifically active despite her disability. In 1937, she married Thomas Hodgkin, son of one historian and grandson of two others. Dorothy and Thomas had three children. 

Research of Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist

From 1928 to 1932 Dorothy Hodgkin went to Oxford and Somerville College. For a brief time during her first year, she combined archaeology and chemistry, analyzing glass tesserae from Jerash with E.G.J. Hartley.

Dorothy attended the special course in crystallography and decided to do research in X-ray crystallography and on thallium dialkyl halides. In 1933, Somerville gave her a research fellowship, to be held for one year at Cambridge and the second at Oxford.

She returned to Somerville and Oxford in 1934 where she remained. Most of her working life, Dorothy spent as Official Fellow and Tutor in Natural Science at Somerville.

She was responsible mainly for teaching chemistry for the women’s colleges. She became a University lecturer and demonstrator in 1946, University Reader in X-ray Crystallography in 1956, and Wolfson Research Professor of the Royal Society in 1960. 

Discovery of Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist – Three-dimensional Biomolecular Structures

She worked in the Department of Mineralogy and Crystallography. She advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three-dimensional structures of crystals.

Discovery of Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist – Structure of insulin

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

 One of Dorothy Hodgkin’s most influential discoveries is the confirmation of the structure of penicillin as previously surmised by Edward Abraham and Ernst Boris Chain, and the structure of vitamin B12, for which she became the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In 1969, after 35 years of work, Hodgkin was able to decipher the structure of insulin, a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets; it is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body. This was one of Hodgkin’s most extraordinary research projects.

Her research began in 1934 when she was offered a small sample of crystalline insulin by Robert Robinson. The hormone captured her imagination because of the intricate and wide-ranging effect it has on the body.

At this stage, X-ray crystallography had not been developed far enough to cope with the complexity of the insulin molecule. Hodgkin and others spent many years improving the technique. Thirty-five years later, in 1969, larger and more complex molecules were tackled and the structure of insulin was finally resolved.

Dorothy Hodkin cooperated with other laboratories active in insulin research, gave advice, and traveled the world giving talks about insulin and its importance for diabetes.

Political Views and Activities of Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist

In 1953, Dorothy Hodgkin was banned from entering the USA and subsequently not allowed to visit the country except by CIA waiver. This was because of Hodgkin’s political activities, and her husband Thomas’ association with the Communist Party.

Shouldn’t science be above politics? Certainly, yes. However, the U.S. authorities at the time didn’t have the understanding and knowledge to make the difference.

In 1961, Dorothy Hodgkin was in Ghana with her husband when they received the news that she had been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Hodgkin was never a communist, but she shared with her mother Molly a concern about social inequalities and a determination to do what she could to prevent armed conflict and, in particular, the threat of nuclear war.

Dorothy became president of the Pugwash Conference in 1976 and served longer than any who preceded or succeeded her in this post. She stepped down in 1988, the year after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty imposed a global ban on short- and long-range nuclear weapons systems, as well as an intrusive verification regime. 

She accepted the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet government in 1987 in recognition of her work for peace and disarmament.

Awards and Honors of Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist

Dorothy Hodgkin won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. As of 2018 has remained the only British woman scientist to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in any of the three sciences it recognizes. In 1965, she was the second woman in 60 years, after Florence Nightingale, to be appointed to the Order of Merit by a king or queen.

Dorothy was the first and, as of July 2018, remains the only woman to receive the prestigious Copley Medal. In 1947, Dorothy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and EMBO Membership in 1970, Hodgkin was Chancellor of the University of Bristol from 1970 to 1988.

In 1958, she was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1966, Dorothy Hodgkin was awarded the Iota Sigma Pi National Honorary Member for her significant contributions.

In the 1970s, Dorothy Hodgkin became a foreign member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1982, she received the Lomonosov Medal of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

In 1987, she accepted the Lenin Peace Prize from the government of Mikhail Gorbachev. The communist government of Bulgaria awarded her its Dimitrov Prize. Those were all people who recognized the difference between science and politics. 

An asteroid (5422) discovered on 23 December 1982 by L.G. Karachkina (at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, M.P.C. 22509, in the USSR) was named “Hodgkin” in her honor. In 1983, Hodgkin received the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art

Death of Dorothy Hodgkin – Female British scientist, chemist

On 29 July 1994, Dorothy Hodgkin died after a stroke.

30. Female Inventor Hedy Lamarr – Female Austrian-born American film actress and inventor of Secret Communication System that led to the development of Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, known as Hedy Lamarr, was born on November 9, 1914, in Vienna, Austria. As a child, she was an intuitive tinkerer, interested in mechanical things and a seeker of knowledge. She was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor.

Actress Career of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

“Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was discovered by an Austrian film director when she was a teenager. In 1933, she gained international notice, with her role in the sexually charged Czech film Ecstasy.

Traveling to London, she met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio head Louis B. Mayer. He offered her a movie contract in Hollywood, where she became a film star from the late 1930s to the 1950s. Her first American film, Algiers, co-starring Charles Boyer, was a success and Lamarr became an immediate box-office sensation.

Among Lamarr’s best-known films are Algiers (1938), Boom Town (1940), I Take This Woman (1940), Comrade X (1940), Come Live With Me (1941), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and Samson and Delilah (1949).

Inventor Career of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

Hedy Lamarr was also an inventor. At the beginning of World War II, Hedy and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes. The invention used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the U.S. Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are arguably incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of CDMA and Wi-Fi. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Inventions of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

Hedy Lamarr had no formal training and was primarily self-taught. She worked in her spare time on various hobbies and inventions, which included an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink. The beverage was unsuccessful. Lamarr herself said it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.

Invention of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor – Secret Communication System

“In a different era, she might very well have become a scientist. At the very least, it was an option that was derailed by her beauty,” -Jeanine Basinger, Film Historian.

During World War II, Hedy Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, an emerging technology in naval war could easily be jammed and set off course. She developed the idea of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. She contacted her friend, composer, and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that. He succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented. The technology invented by Lamarr would eventually be used in the development of GPS, wifi, and Bluetooth.

Applications of Secret Communication System of Hedy Lamarr – Female Austrian-born American film actress and inventor

Hedy Lamarr’s invention was technologically difficult to implement at the time, and the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military. Besides, they probably didn’t take it as a serious technological invention because it was coming from a female Hollywood star. 

In 1962, coinciding with the Cuban missile crisis, an updated version of their design appeared on Navy ships. Lamarr and Antheil’s work with spread spectrum technology contributed to the development of Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth, secure Wi-Fi and GPS are essential technologies used every day in laptops, tablets, and phones by everyone around the planet. The same technology Hedy Lamarr developed is also used for military applications. Only in the past decade has Hedy Lamarr’s contribution to science become more widely recognized.

Patents of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil’s invention was granted a patent on August 11, 1942. She filed the patent using her married name Hedy Kiesler Markey. 

Awards and Honors of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

In 1939, Hedy Lamarr was selected the most promising new actress of 1938 in a poll of area voters conducted by Philadelphia Record film critic. In 1951, British moviegoers voted Hedy Lamarr the year’s 10th best actress, for her performance in Samson and Delilah.

In 1997, Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil were jointly honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award and Hedy Lamarr also was the first woman to receive the Invention Convention’s BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, known as the Oscars of inventing.

In 2014, Hedy Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology.

Death of Hedy Lamarr – Female American film actress and inventor

“They think I’m a bad actress. I think sometimes in life I act more than on the screen.” -Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr remained unmarried for the last 35 years of her life as a lonely recluse. Hedy died in Casselberry, Florida, on January 19, 2000, of heart failure. He was 85. Her son, Anthony Loder, spread her ashes in Austria’s Vienna Woods in accordance with her last wishes.

31. Female Inventor Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor of Barbie Doll

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Librarygurl/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor

Ruth Marianna Handler was born to a family of Polish Jewish immigrants on November 4, 1916, in Denver, Colorado. She was a businesswoman, inventor, entrepreneur, writer, and best known for inventing the Barbie doll in the 1950s.  

Ruth’s father, Jacob Mosco, was a blacksmith. He left Poland with his family in order to avoid serving in the Russian army. Her mother was Ida Rubinstein Mosco. The Moscos had ten children and Ruth was the youngest.

Marriage and Family Biography (Life) of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor

Ruth was only sixteen and in high school when she met Elliot Handler, the man who would become both her husband and business partner. After high school, Elliot and Ruth moved to Los Angeles, California where he studied at the Art Center School of Design, and she found a job as a secretary at Paramount Studios. 

Inventions of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor

In 1959, Ruth Handler invented the Barbie doll. Later, she invented Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken. 

Invention of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor – Barbie Doll

Being in the toy market, Ruth realized the lack of adult-looking dolls for girls who would then be able to play act their most highly social aspirations and desires for a comfortable future as housewives and mothers at the time. 

Ruth was vacationing in Europe with her family when she saw a German Bild Lilli doll in a Swiss shop in Hamburg and brought it home. Then Ruth created a similar doll to the Lilli doll which she believed it was a representation of the same concept that she had been trying to sell to other Mattel executives. So, Mattel’s Barbie doll was based on Bild Lilli dolls.

The difference was that Barbie was made of softer plastic, wore less makeup, had paler skin, blond long hair, and the Barbie doll had rooted hair and non-molded shoes and earrings, other than that Barbie was a look-alike of Lilli. 

In 1959, the Barbie doll was born and presented to the world at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Mattel sold over 350,000 Barbie dolls that first year alone with the demand only growing in the following year.

Thanks to Ruth’s widespread and consistent television marketing, the Barbie doll world soon expanded, adding her boyfriend Ken, a house, a car, lots of different outfits for different occasions, a dog pet, a horse, a beauty salon, and many other friends and family. The two main toys, Barbie and Ken, were named after the Handlers’ children, Barbara and Kenneth.

Patents of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor Mattel, Inc. Career of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor

In California, Ruth and Elliot’s first breakthrough in the world of business was the founding of Elzac, together with their financial partner Zachary in the 1940s. This was the first in a series of several other companies Ruth co-founded before her death in 2002.

Elzac produced figural costume jewelry brooches. The business grew quickly, however, the Handlers decided to move on to something more ambitious. They founded another company called Mattel, this time collaborating with designer Harold “Matt” Matson.

This time, they began with manufacturing picture frames. Quite soon they decided to move on to the toy business and began making dollhouse furniture. 

Despite not having a formal education in marketing, Ruth was creative and had a good sense of how using the new marketing channels available could benefit her business. Her marketing decisions were mostly responsible for the success Mattel enjoyed since the 1950s. 

“I was busier than a cockroach.” – Ruth Handler

Rather than choosing to market their toys in magazines and catalogs, Ruth believed they should advertise on television. Following Ruth’s idea, Mattel bought sponsorship of the new Disney program The Mickey Mouse Club. As a result, their sales skyrocket. Ruth was accused of fraud in the 1970s and sentenced to community service. 

Death of Ruth Handler – Female American businessperson and inventor

Ruth Handler died on April 27, 2002, from complications following a colon cancer surgery in Century City, California. 

At the time of her death, it had been estimated that Ruth Handler’s net worth was as high as $100 million, an amount earned through her successful career in business. Over a billion Barbies had been sold in 150 countries by the time of her death.

32. Female Inventor Marion Donovan – Female American entrepreneur and inventor of waterproof disposable diaper

Marion O’Brien Donovan was born on October 15, 1917. She developed the first waterproof disposable diaper. Marion Donovan worked as a product development consultant. 

Inventions of Marion Donovan – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Marion Donovan invented numerous practical solutions to problems around the home. She invented a 30-garment compact hanger called the Big Hangup, a soap dish that drained into the sink, and the Zippity-Do, an elastic cord that connected over the shoulder to the zipper on the back of a dress. 

Invention of Marion Donovan – Female American entrepreneur and inventor – Waterproof Disposable Diaper

In 1951, Marion Donovan had the idea for her more essential innovation: the disposable paper diaper. In order to prevent a rash, a diaper’s material must wick the moisture away from the baby’s skin, rather than absorbing the moisture and be retaining it inertly.

After much experimentation, Marion Donovan designed a composition of sturdy, absorbent paper that did the job well. Donovan did not have instant success with this idea. She toured the major U.S. paper companies and was roundly laughed at for proposing such an unnecessary and impractical item.

It was not until ten years later that Victor Mills, creator of Pampers®, capitalized over Donovan’s idea.

Patents of Marion Donovan – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Marion Donovan earned over a dozen patents in her lifetime. Donovan’s patent for her disposable diaper was granted in 1951.

Death of Marion Donovan – Female American entrepreneur and inventor

Marion Donovan died on November 4, 1998.

33. Female Inventor  Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor of a multitude of new drugs including the first successful antiviral drug, acyclovir (ACV), for the treatment of Herpes infection

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor

Gertrude Belle Elion was born in New York in 1918. She helped develop drugs to treat many major diseases, including malaria and AIDS.

The death of her grandfather, who died of cancer, was a trigger for Gertrude to enter Hunter College in New York City when she was 15. Gertrude graduated summa cum laude in chemistry at age 19.

Despite she was brilliant, she had difficulty finding employment after graduation because many laboratories refused to hire women chemists, no matter how smart they were or the knowledge and qualifications they had. 

She accepted a part-time job as a lab assistant and went back to school at New York University. She also worked as a substitute high school teacher for a few years while finishing work on her master’s degree, which she earned in 1941.

She never obtained a doctorate degree. However, she was later awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the Polytechnic University of New York and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Harvard University.

Career of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor

World War II created more opportunities for women in the industry. Gertrude Elion was able to obtain a few quality-control jobs in food and consumer-product companies before being hired at Burroughs-Wellcome in 1944.  There, she began a 40-year partnership with Dr. George H. Hitchings. 

Elion and Hitchings set out on an unorthodox course of creating medicines by studying the chemical composition of diseased cells. They used the differences in biochemistry between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents) to design drugs that would block viral infections. 

Inventions and Discoveries of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor

Gertrude Elion and her team developed drugs to combat leukemia, herpes, and AIDS. They also discovered treatments to reduce the body’s rejection of foreign tissue in kidney transplants between unrelated donors.

Invention of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor – Azathioprine

Gertrude Elion developed the first immunosuppressive drug, Azathioprine, used for organ transplants.

Invention of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor – Acyclovir (ACV)

Gertrude Elion also developed the first successful antiviral drug, acyclovir (ACV), for the treatment of Herpes infection.

Patents of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor

Gertrude Elion developed 45 patents in medicine.

Awards and Honors of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor

Gertrude Elion was awarded 23 honorary degrees. In 1988, she received the Nobel Prize in Medicine, together with George Hitchings and Sir James Black. Other awards included the National Medal of Science in 1991, and that same year, she became the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1997, she was granted the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award.

Death of Gertrude Belle Elion – Female American scientist, biochemist, pharmacologist, inventor

Gertrude Elion died on February 21, 1999, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She was 81.

Female Inventor Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist, discoverer of DNA structure

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist, discoverer of DNA structure

Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born on July 25, 1920, in London, England. She studied physical chemistry at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. Rosalind graduated in 1941 and received a fellowship to conduct research in physical chemistry at Cambridge.

However, things changed thanks to the advance of World War II. She served as a London air raid warden and in 1942 she gave up her fellowship in order to work for the British Coal Utilisation Research Association. There, she investigated the physical chemistry of carbon and coal for the war effort.

It was good at least that she was able to use this research for her doctoral thesis. In 1945, she received a doctorate from Cambridge.

Career of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist

From 1947 to 1950 Rosalind worked with Jacques Méring at the State Chemical Laboratory in Paris, studying X-ray diffraction technology. That work led to her research on the structural changes caused by the formation of graphite in heated carbons. This work was valuable for the coking industry.

Research of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist

In 1951, Rosalind Franklin joined the Biophysical Laboratory at King’s College, London, as a research fellow where she applied X-ray diffraction methods to the study of DNA.

Back then, very little was known about the chemical makeup or structure of DNA. Her research at King’s College led her to discover the density of DNA and, more importantly, established that the molecule existed in a helical conformation.

Her work to make clearer X-ray patterns of DNA molecules laid the foundation for James Watson and Francis Crick to suggest in 1953 that the structure of DNA is a double-helix polymer, a spiral consisting of two DNA strands wound around each other.

Inventions and Discoveries of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist

She was a British scientist who contributed to the discovery of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a constituent of chromosomes that serves to encode genetic information. 

Franklin also contributed new insight into the structure of viruses, helping to lay the foundation for the field of structural virology.

Discovery of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist – Double Helix

From 1953 to 1958 Franklin worked in the Crystallography Laboratory at Birkbeck College, London where she completed her work on coals and on DNA and began a project on the molecular structure of the tobacco mosaic virus.

Rosalind collaborated on studies that made clear that the ribonucleic acid (RNA) in that virus was embedded in its protein rather than in its central cavity and that this RNA was a single-strand helix, rather than the double helix found in the DNA of bacterial viruses and higher organisms.

Franklin’s involvement in cutting-edge DNA research, unfortunately, was halted by her untimely death from cancer in 1958. 

Awards and Honors of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist

Rosalind Franklin was never nominated for a Nobel Prize even though her work was a crucial part in the discovery of DNA’s structure.

Death of Rosalind Franklin – Female English scientist, chemist, biophysicist

Rosalind Franklin died in London, England on April 16, 1958. She died from ovarian cancer. She was 37. 

In 1956, Franklin discovered that she had ovarian cancer. She, however, continued working throughout the following two years. Three operations and experimental chemotherapy did not help much. She worked up until several weeks before her death.

35. Female Inventor Giuliana Tesoro – Female Italian scientist, chemist, inventor of flame-retardant fiber

Dr. Giuliana Cavaglieri Tesoro was a prolific organic chemist who made a number of contributions to the fiber and textile industry. One of her most well-known inventions is the flame-retardant fiber.

Giuliana Cavaglieri was born in Venice, Italy into a Jewish family in 1921. In 1938, after completing her high school education, Giuliana was denied access to Italy’s university system due to the promulgation of the Fascist Racial Laws.

She then escaped the Benito Mussolini era and moved to Switzerland first. In 1939, she moved to the United States where she was allowed to enter Yale University’s graduate program.

In 1943, at the age of 21, Giuliana Cavaglieri received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. The same year she married Victor Tesoro and the couple had two children.

Career of Giuliana Tesoro – Female Italian scientist, chemist, inventor

Giuliana Cavaglieri Tesoro worked summers for Calico Chemical Company. In 1944, she accepted a position as a research chemist at Onyx Oil, a chemical company where she was promoted to head of the organic synthesis department in 1946, assistant director of research in 1955, an associate director in 1957.

Giuliana was then appointed an assistant director of organic research for J.P. Stevens & Company before she started working for the Textile Research Institute for two years. In 1969, Juliana accepted a position as a senior chemist at Burlington Industries and was appointed a director of chemical research in 1971.

In 1972, Giuliana accepted a post as Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she taught until 1976. She remained on the Faculty as an adjunct professor and senior research scientist until 1982.

In the same year, Giuliana was appointed research professor at Polytechnic Institute of New York University in Brooklyn, New York from where she retired in 1996. 

Invention of Giuliana Tesoro – Female Italian scientist, chemist, inventor – flame-retardant fiber

Giuliana Tesoro made significant advances in textile processing and organic compounds that improved textile performance for everyday consumers as well as efficiency for manufacturing systems.

One of Tesoro’s most important developments were flame-resistant fibers. She designed ways to prevent static accumulation in synthetic fibers and also created improved permanent press properties for textiles.

Patents of Giuliana Tesoro – Female Italian scientist, chemist, inventor

Giuliana Tesoro received more than 125 U.S. patents.

Awards and Honors of Giuliana Tesoro – Female Italian scientist, chemist, inventor

Giuliana Tesoro was a member of several committees of National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council concerning toxic materials and fire safety. Giuliana was founder and president of the Fiber Society in 1974.

Giuliana was part of the American Chemical Society, the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, the American Institute of Chemists, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1963, Giuliana Tesoro was awarded the Olney Medal of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. In 1978, Giuliana was the recipient of the Society of Women Engineers’ Achievement Award.

Death of Giuliana Tesoro – Female Italian scientist, chemist, inventor

Dr. Giuliana Tesoro died on September 29, 2002, in Dobbs Ferry, New York at the age of 81.

36. Female Inventor  Mary Sherman Morgan – Female American rocket fuel scientist, inventor of Hydyne

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: George Morgan/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Mary Sherman Morgan – Female American rocket fuel scientist, inventor

Mary Sherman Morgan was born on November 4, 1921. While Mary was working at North American Aviation, she met George Richard Morgan, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Caltech. They got married and had four children: George, Stephen, Monica, and Karen.

Career of Mary Sherman Morgan – Female American rocket fuel scientist, inventor

Stephanie Sherman Morgan was having her college education when the  Second World War broke out. Men going overseas resulted in a shortage of chemists and other scientists.

A local employment recruiter offered her a job at a factory in Sandusky, Ohio without telling her what product the factory made, or what her job would be. He only told her that she would be required to obtain a top secret security clearance.

Short on money, Stephanie decided to take the job and postpone her degree. The job turned out to be at the Plum Brook Ordnance Works munitions factory charged with the responsibility of manufacturing explosives trinitrotoluene (TNT), dinitrotoluene (DNT), and pentolite. The site produced more than one billion pounds of ordnance throughout World War II.

Stephanie spent the war years designing explosives for the military. After that, she applied for a job at North American Aviation, where she was employed in their Rocketdyne Division, based in Canoga Park, California. 

Soon after being hired, Stephanie was promoted to Theoretical Performance Specialist, a job that required her to mathematically calculate the expected performance of new rocket propellants. 

Out of 900 engineers, she was the only woman, and one of only a few without a college degree. However, this didn’t stop her from becoming the first female rocket fuel scientist.

Invention of Mary Sherman Morgan – Female American rocket fuel scientist, inventor –  Hydyne

In 1957, Mary Sherman Morgan invented the liquid fuel Hydyne, which powered the Jupiter-C rocket that boosted the United States’ first satellite, Explorer.

Death of Mary Sherman Morgan – Female American rocket fuel scientist, inventor

Mary Sherman Morgan died of emphysema on August 4, 2004. In July 2013, BBC’s online News Magazine released a short video tribute to the rocket fuel scientist, narrated by her son, George Morgan. 

37. Female Inventor Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor of Kevlar

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Science History Institute/Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

Stephanie Kwolek was born to Polish immigrant parents in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, in 1923. In 1946, Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University.

Career of Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

In 1946, Stephanie Kwolek accepted a position at DuPont’s Buffalo, New York, facility. This vacancy was due to men being overseas during World War II.

Stephanie only intended to work for DuPont temporarily, to raise money to study medicine. To her surprise, she found the work interesting and decided to stay. 

Inventions of Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

In 1985, Stephanie Kwolek and coworkers patented a method for preparing PBO and PBT polymers. 

Invention of Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor – Kevlar

“The solution was unusually (low viscosity), turbid, stir-opalescent, and buttermilk in appearance. Conventional polymer solutions are usually clear or translucent and have the viscosity of molasses, more or less. The solution that I prepared looked like a dispersion but was totally filterable through a fine pore filter. This was a liquid crystalline solution, but I did not know it at the time.” – Stephanie Kwolek, on her Kevlar invention

After having worked for DuPont for ten years, Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar. In 1964, in anticipation of a gasoline shortage, her group began searching for a lightweight yet strong fiber to be used in tires. 

The polymers she had been working with at the time, poly-p-phenylene terephthalate and poly benzamide, formed liquid crystal while in a solution that at the time had to be melt-spun at over 200 °C (392 °F), which produced weaker and less stiff fibers.

The innovative technique in Stephanie Kwolek’s new projects and the melt-condensation polymerization process was to reduce those temperatures to between 0 and 40 °C (32 and 104 °F)

The new fiber would not break when nylon typically would. Not only was it stronger than nylon, Kevlar was five times stronger than steel by weight. Both Stephanie’s supervisor and the laboratory director understood the significance of her discovery, and a new field of polymer chemistry quickly arose.

By 1971, modern Kevlar was introduced. Stephanie Kwolek learned that the fibers could be made even stronger by heat-treating them. The polymer molecules, when shaped like rods or matchsticks, are highly oriented, which gives Kevlar its extraordinary strength. Kwolek continued her research of thermotropic Kevlar derivatives containing aliphatic and chlorine groups.

Applications of Kevlar of Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

Stephanie Kwolek was not too much involved in developing practical applications of Kevlar. However, senior DuPont managers assigned a whole group to work on different aspects of the invention. Kwolek continued chemistry investigations of Kevlar derivatives for DuPont. 

Kevlar is used in more than 200 applications, including tennis rackets, skis, parachute lines, boats, airplanes, ropes, cables, and bullet-proof vests. It has been used for car tires, firefighter boots, hockey sticks, cut-resistant gloves, and armored cars. Other applications include protective building materials like bomb-proof materials, hurricane safe rooms, and bridge reinforcements. Kevlar is also used to build cellular telephones, Motorola’s Droid RAZR has a Kevlar unibody.

Patents of Stephanie Kwolek – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

Stephanie Kwolek did not profit from DuPont’s products. She signed over the Kevlar patent to the company.

Death of Stephanie Kwolek -Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

Stephanie Kwolek died on June 18, 2014. She was 90.

38. Female Inventor Bette Nesmith Graham – Female American typist, inventor of typewriter correction fluid

Bette Nesmith Graham was born on March 23, 1924, in Dallas, Texas. She was an American typist, commercial artist, and the inventor of Liquid Paper. Bette was the mother of musician and producer Michael Nesmith of The Monkees.

She graduated from Alamo Heights High School. Bette married Warren Audrey Nesmith before he left to fight in World War II. While he was overseas she had a child, Robert Michael Nesmith, who was born on December 30, 1942. In 1946, after her husband returned home, they divorced.

In 1962, Bette Nesmith married Robert Graham, who joined her in running the company. They divorced in 1975.

Career of Bette Nesmith Graham – Female American typist, inventor

To support herself as a single mother, Bette worked as a secretary at Texas Bank and Trust, where she eventually attained the position of the executive secretary, the highest position open at that time to women in the industry.

Her company, Mistake Out, started the 1960s operating at a small loss. Bette was running the business from home. As the product became an indispensable tool of the secretarial trade, Bette Nesmith relocated production and shipping from her kitchen to a 10 feet-by-26 feet portable metal structure in her backyard, where packaging, shipping, and production were centered. By 1967, Liquid Paper was a million-dollar enterprise.

Invention of Bette Nesmith Graham – Female American typist, inventor – Liquid Paper

Working as a typist, Bette realized it was difficult to erase mistakes made by early electric typewriters. She realized that “with lettering, an artist never corrects by erasing, but always paints over the error.

So I decided to use what artists use. I put some tempera water-based paint in a bottle and took my watercolor brush to the office. I used that to correct my mistakes.”

Bette secretly used her white correction paint invention for five years, making some improvements with help from her son’s chemistry teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas. Her coworkers frequently sought what they called “her paint out.”

In 1956, Bette eventually began marketing her typewriter correction fluid as Mistake Out. The name was later changed to Liquid Paper when she began her own company. In 1979, she sold her company to the Gillette Corporation for $47.5 million.

Patents of Bette Nesmith Graham – Female American typist, inventor

Bette Nesmith Graham patented her invention, renamed it Liquid Paper, and obtained a trademark.

Management Style  of Bette Nesmith Graham – Female American typist, inventor

Bette Nesmith Graham ran her company with a unique combination of spirituality, egalitarianism, and pragmatism. She also believed that women could bring a more nurturing and humanistic quality to the male world of business.

In order to support this idea, in 1975, she included a greenbelt with a fish pond, an employee library, and a childcare center in her new company headquarters.

Death of Bette Nesmith Graham – Female American typist, inventor

Bette Nesmith died on May 12, 1980, at the age of 56, in Richardson, Texas.

39. Female Inventor Erna Schneider Hoover – Female American scientist, mathematician, inventor of a computerized system for phone traffic

Erna Schneider was born on June 19, 1926, in Irvington, New Jersey. Erna was interested in science at an early age. After reading the biography of Marie Curie, she was convinced that she could succeed in a scientific field despite the prevailing ideas about gender roles at the time. Erna attended Wellesley College, where she studied classical and medieval philosophy and history.

In 1948, she graduated from Wellesley with honors, earning a bachelor’s degree. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was honored as a Durant Scholar

In 1951, Erna earned her Ph.D. in philosophy and foundations of mathematics from Yale University. In 1953, she married Charles Wilson Hoover Jr.

Career of Erna Schneider Hoover – Female American scientist, mathematician, inventor

From 1951 to 1954, Erna Schneider Hoover was a professor at Swarthmore College where she taught philosophy and logic. In 1954, she joined Bell Labs as a senior technical associate and was promoted in 1956 becoming the first woman supervisor of a technical department at Bell Labs. Erna worked at Bell Labs for 32 years until retiring in 1987.

Invention of Erna Schneider Hoover – Female American scientist, mathematician, inventor – Computerized system for phone traffic

Switching systems were moving from electronic to computer-based technologies. A call center would be inundated with thousands of calls in a short amount of time, overwhelming the unreliable electronic relays, and causing the entire system to freeze up.

Erna Hoover used her knowledge of symbolic logic and feedback theory to program the control mechanisms of a call center to use data about incoming calls to impose order on the whole system. The system used computer electronic methods to monitor the frequency of incoming calls at different times. 

Hoover’s method gave priority to processes that were concerned with the input and output of the switchover processes that were less important such as record keeping and billing. 

The computer, as a result, would adjust the call center’s acceptance rate automatically, greatly reducing the overloading problem. Hoover’s system became known as stored program control.

The principles of Hoover’s invention are still being used in telecommunications equipment in the 21st-century.

Patents of Erna Schneider Hoover – Female American scientist, mathematician, inventor

Erna Schneider Hoover was awarded U.S. patent number 3,623,007 in November 1971, for her invention Feedback Control Monitor for Stored Program Data Processing System. It was one of the first software patents ever issued.

Awards and Honors of Erna Schneider Hoover – Female American scientist, mathematician, inventor

Erna Scheider Hoover was awarded one of the first patents for computer software. She was elected as a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the Wellesley College alumni achievement award.

40. Female Inventor Jane Goodall – Female British scientist, primatologist, and anthropologist, world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, discoverer of the facts that chimpanzees eat meat, and make and use tools 

“Every individual counts. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.” – Jane Goodall

Valerie Jane Morris was born on April 3, 1934, in London, England. As a child, Jane loved animals. When she was just over one year old, her father give her a toy chimpanzee. Jane loved the toy and named the chimpanzee Jubilee, carrying it with her everywhere.

When Jane was just five, she hid for hours in a henhouse to discover where the eggs come from. Since an early age, Jane dreamt of living in Africa to watch and write about animals. This was an unusual goal for a girl at the time. However, Jane’s mother supported and encouraged her.

Career of Jane Goodall – Female British scientist, primatologist and anthropologist, world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees

“Jane, if you really want something, and if you work hard, take advantage of the opportunities, and never give up, you will somehow find a way.”- Vanne Morris, Jane’s mother

On April 2, 1957, Jane traveled to Kenya by boat. She was 23. In Kenya, Jane met the famous anthropologist and palaeontologist Dr Louis S B Leakey. Showing off her knowledge of Africa and its wildlife Jane impresses Dr Leakey to the point that he hired her as his assistant. Jane then traveled with Leakey and his wife, archaeologist Mary Leakey, to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania on a fossil-hunting expedition.

Discoveries of Jane Goodall – Female British scientist, primatologist and anthropologist, world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees

“I could have learned a whole lot more about fossils and become a palaeontologist. But my childhood dream was as strong as ever–somehow I must find a way to watch free, wild animals living their own, undisturbed lives–I wanted to learn things that no one else knew, uncover secrets through patient observation.” – Jane Goodall

 On October 30, 1961, Jane observed chimpanzees eat meat for the first time. Later, after patient observation, she saw the chimpanzees hunt for meat. These revealing observations disprove the widely held belief that chimpanzees are vegetarian.

“I wanted to come as close to talking to animals as I could.” -Jane Goodall

On November 4, 1961, Jane observed David Greybeard and Goliath making tools to extract termites from their mounds. First, the chimps would select a thin branch from a tree, then strip the leaves to finally push the branch into the termite mound.

After a few seconds, they would pull out the termite-covered stick and pick off the tasty termites with their lips. This event became one of Jane’s most important discoveries.

Before that, only humans were thought to create tools. On hearing of Jane’s observation, Dr. Leakey famously said: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.”

Activism of Jane Goodall – Female British scientist, primatologist and anthropologist, world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees

Jane’s work continues today by traveling an average of 300 days per year speaking in venues around the world about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her reasons for hope that humans will ultimately solve the problems that human society have imposed on the Earth.

Jane continually urges global audiences to recognize their personal power and responsibility to positively make changes through consumer action, lifestyle change, and activism.

Awards and Honors of Jane Goodall – Female British scientist, primatologist, and anthropologist, world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees

Jane Goodall’s awards and honors are too many to mention. The Jane Goodall Institute has listed all her awards and distinctions for easy reference. 

On April 16, 2002, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints Jane to serve as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

On February 20, 2004, Jane is made a Dame of the British Empire (the equivalent of a knighthood) during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

In 2006, Dr. Goodall received the French Legion of Honor, presented by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, as well as the UNESCO Gold Medal Award.

41. Female Inventor Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor of Scotchgard

“You can encourage and teach young people to observe, to ask questions when unexpected things happen. You can teach yourself not to ignore the unanticipated. Just think of all the great inventions that have come through serendipity, such as Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, and just noticing something no one conceived of before.” – Patsy O’Connell Sherman

Patsy O’Connell Sherman was a 3M chemist who co-invented Scotchgard when she was in her 20s.

Patsy O’Connell was born on September 15, 1930, in Minneapolis. In 1948, she graduated from Minneapolis North High School. In the early 1950s, she earned a bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and mathematics at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minneapolis.

Career of Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor

In 1952, Patsy O’Connell began work as a chemist at 3M where she became a laboratory manager. In the mid-1980s, she developed and ran the company’s technical education department.

Inventions of Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor

Patsy O’Connell Sherman was the co-inventor of Scotchgard, a 3M brand of products, a stain repellent, and durable water repellent.

Invention of Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor – Skotchgard

In 1953, Sherman and Samuel Smith focused on an accident in a 3M laboratory. An experimental compound dripped on someone’s canvas tennis shoes and couldn’t be cleaned off. 

Sherman and Smith started thinking about an idea that seemed impossible at the time: a fluorochemical polymer that could repel oil and water from fabrics.

In 1956, their research resulted in the first Skotchgard product, a stain repellent for wool.

Patents of Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor – Skotchgard

Patsy Sherman and Samuel Smith received U.S. patent number 3,574,791 on April 13, 1971, for their invention of block and graft copolymers containing water-solvable polar groups and fluoroaliphatic groups. Patsy Sherman holds 13 patent with Smith in fluorochemical polymers and polymerization processes.

Awards and Honors of Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor

– She was inducted into the Minnesota Science & Technology Hall of Fame in 2011

– Sherman was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2001 and has served on the board of directors

– Sherman received the Joseph M. Biedenbach Distinguished Service Award in 1991 from the American Society for Engineering Education

– She became a Distinguished Alumni Citation Recipient for Scientific Research in 1975

– She was featured in a History Channel commercial for May 24 Great Inventions week in 200X

Death of Patsy O’Connell Sherman –  Female American scientist, chemist, co-inventor

Patsy O’Connel Sherman died from a stroke on February 11, 2008. She was 77. 

42. Female Inventor Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, co-inventor of multiple-out-of-order dynamic instruction scheduling, scalable design rules for VLSI chip design, internet e-commerce infrastructure for rapid chip prototyping

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biography (Life) of Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor

“If you want to change the future, start living as if you’re already there.” -Lynn Conway

Lynn Conway was born on January 2, 1938. She was shy and experienced gender dysphoria as a child. Lynn became fascinated by astronomy and built a 6-inch (150 mm) reflector telescope. In 1955, Lynn Conway entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning high grades but ultimately leaving in despair after an attempted gender transition in 1957 and 1958 failed due to the medical climate at the time.

She resumed education at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, earning B.S. and M.S.E.E. degrees in 1962 and 1963 respectively.

Gender Transition of Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor

After learning of the pioneering research of Harry Benjamin in treating transsexuals and realizing that genital affirmation surgery was possible, Lynn sought his help and became his patient.

Lynn suffered severe depression from gender dysphoria and contacted Benjamin, who agreed to provide counseling and prescribe hormones. Under Benjamin’s care, Lynn Conway began her gender transition.

Conway had previously been married to a woman and had two children. After transitioning she was denied access to their children.

IBM fired Conway in 1968 after she revealed her intention to transition to a female gender role, despite her hopes that things would be different.

Career of Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor

Lynn Conway joined IBM in the mid-1960s, where she made foundational contributions to superscalar computer architecture, including the innovation of multiple-issue dynamic instruction scheduling (DIS).

Working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Lynn went on to innovate scalable MOS design rules and highly simplified methods for silicon chip design, co-authoring the famous Mead-Conway text and pioneering the new form of university course that taught these methods launching a worldwide revolution in VLSI system design in the late 1970s.

Lynn innovated the Internet-based rapid chip prototyping infrastructure that was institutionalized as the MOSIS system by DARPA and NSF – supporting the rapid development of thousands of chip designs and leading to many Silicon Valley startups in the 1980s.

From 1983 to 1985, Lynn served as Assistant Director for Strategic Computing at DARPA and joined the University of Michigan as Professor of EECS and Associate Dean of Engineering, where she continued her distinguished and impressive career.

Lynn’s VLSI design revolution enabled her multi-issue DIS innovation from the 1960s to finally come to life in the 1990s in the Intel Pentium microprocessors and their contemporaries that greatly enhanced the power of modern computers.

Invention of Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor – Multiple-out-of-order dynamic instruction scheduling

Lynn Conway invented the dynamic instruction scheduling for issuing out-of-order issuance of multiple instructions per machine cycle in superscalar computers when she was working for IBM in 1966. 

The research paper, originally classified, has been officially declassified by IBM on September 7, 2000, and Lynn Conway has been granted a worldwide license to distribute it for historical and academic purposes.

For background and context on Lynn’s dynamic instruction scheduling invention refer to Lynn Conway’s ACS-Archive Front-Matter.  

Invention of Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor – Scalable design rules for VLSI chip design

Intense research activity at Xerox PARC and Caltech in the late 1979 and 1980, resulted in the work of the Mead-Conway team achieving great impact and success. In 1979, Lynn Conway’s new Xerox PARC MPC VLSI implementation system and service was published and also operated successfully for a dozen universities.

Mead-Conway VLSI design courses, based on Lynn’s 1978 course at M.I.T, spread rapidly into scores of top universities throughout the world. 

Lynn Conway provides a detailed overview of her work in the Impact of the Mead-Conway innovations in VLSI chip design and implementation methodology document.

Recruited by Xerox PARC in 1973, Lynn invented scalable design rules for VLSI chip design, became principal author of the famous Mead-Conway text Introduction to VLSI systems, and in 1978, while serving as a Visiting Associate Professor of EECS at M.I.T., pioneered the teaching of the new digital system design methods – thereby launching a revolution in microchip design in the 1980’s.

Invention of Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor –  Internet e-commerce infrastructure for rapid chip prototyping

While at PARC Lynn also invented and demonstrated an internet e-commerce infrastructure for rapid chip prototyping, spawning the “fabless-design + silicon-foundry” paradigm of semiconductor design and manufacturing.

Institutionalized by DARPA at USC-ISI, the resulting “MOSIS” system enabled the rapid development of thousands of chip designs, leading to many major startups in the 80’s and beyond.

Patents of  Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor

A prolific inventor, Lynn Conway has received multiple patents: 

US 5046022, Conway, Lynn; Richard Volz & Michael Walker, “Teleautonomous System and Method Employing Time/Position Synchrony/Desynchrony”, issued September 3, 1991.

– US 5444476, Conway, Lynn, “System and Method for Teleinteraction”, issued August 22, 1995

US 5652849, Conway, Lynn & Charles Cohen, “Apparatus and Method for Remote Control Using a Visual Information Stream”, issued July 20, 1997

US 5719622, Conway, Lynn, “Visual Control Selection of Remote Mechanisms”, issued February 17, 1998

US 5745782, Conway, Lynn, “Method and System for Organizing and Presenting Audio/Visual Information”, issued April 28, 1998

Transgender Activism of  Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor

Close to retirement, Lynn Conway learned that the story of her early work at IBM might soon be revealed through the investigations of Mark Smotherman, which were being prepared for a 2001 publication. 

Then Lynn began quietly coming out as a trans woman in 1999 to friends and colleagues. She told about her past gender transition using her personal website to tell the story in her own words. 

Lynn’s story was widely reported in 2000 in profiles in Scientific American and the Los Angeles Times. When her story became public, she began work in transgender activism. Lynn has been passionate about protecting and expanding the rights of transgender people.

She has provided direct and indirect assistance to numerous other transgender women, providing emotional and medical resources and advice. Parts of her Website have been translated into most of the world’s major languages for a wider reach.

Because of her past experience with IBM, she has strongly advocated for equal opportunities and employment protections for transgender people in the high-technology industry, and for the elimination of the pathologization of transgender people by the psychiatric community.

In 2013,  Lynn Conway and her colleague Leandra Vicci of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill successfully played an important role lobbying the Board of Directors of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for transgender inclusion in the IEEE’s Code of Ethics. 

That Code, known within the profession as much as a code of honor as one of ethics, became fully LGBT inclusive in January 2014. The change had a great impact on the world’s largest engineering professional society. 

Awards and Honors of  Lynn Conway – Female American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor

– Electronics 1981 Award for Achievement

– Harold Pender Award of the Moore School, University of Pennsylvania, 1984

– IEEE EAB Major Educational Innovation Award, 1984

– Fellow of the IEEE, 1985, “for contributions to VLSI technology”

– John Price Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, 1985

– Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, May 1985

– Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 1989

– National Achievement Award, Society of Women Engineers, 1990

– Presidential Appointment to the United States Air Force Academy Board of Visitors, 1996

– Honorary Doctorate, Trinity College, 1998

– Electronic Design Hall of Fame, 2002

– Engineer of the Year, National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, 2005

– Named one of the “Stonewall 40 trans heroes” by the ICS and NGLTF, 2009.

– Computer Pioneer Award, IEEE Computer Society, 2009

– Member of the Corporation, Emerita, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, 1993-2010

– Fellow Award, Computer History Museum, 2014, “For her work in developing and disseminating new methods of integrated circuit design.” 

– Honorary Doctorate, Illinois Institute of Technology, 2014

– Steinmetz Memorial Lecture, (Invitational), IEEE/Union College, 2015.

– IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal, 2015

– Magill Lecture in Science, Technology and the Arts (Invited), Columbia University, 2016

– Honorary Doctorate, University of Victoria, 2016

– Fellow Award, American Association for the Advance of Science (AAAS), 2016

In 2014, Time Magazine named Lynn as one of 21 Transgender People Who Influenced American Culture. In 2015, she was selected for inclusion in The Trans100.

43. Female Inventor Barbara Askins – Female American scientist, chemist, inventor of a method to enhance underexposed photographic negatives

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: NASACommons/Flickr

Biography (Life) of Barbara Askins –  Female American scientist, chemist, inventor

Barbara S. Askins was born in 1939, in Belfast, Tennessee. She began her career as a teacher and completed a bachelor and master’s degree in Chemistry before accepting a position as a chemist for the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1975.

Barbara Askins is best known for her invention of a method to enhance underexposed photographic negatives. Her development was used extensively by NASA and the medical industry.

Career of  Barbara Askins – Female American chemist, inventor

Askins was among the first American women to make significant contributions in the field of space exploration, working for NASA during an exciting time leading up to the launch of the first Space Shuttle in 1981.

She and others at Marshall served as role models and mentors to the women entering the field in the 1980s and 1990s. Askins also contributed to several other important research projects and papers at Marshall during her tenure. 

Research of Barbara Askins –  Female American chemist, inventor

Barbara Askins worked for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center pioneering the invention of a process in which images on developed photographic emulsions can be significantly intensified by making the image silver radioactive and exposing the second emulsion to this radiation.

The resulting print, which is known as an autoradiograph, reproduces the image with significant increases in density and contrast. Her method made visible the invisible in photos that would otherwise have been useless.

This was very useful in applications including the coaxing of data from underexposed space images such as those peering deep into space as well as those highlighting the geology of other bodies in our solar system.

Inventions of Barbara Askins –  Female American chemist, inventor

Barbara Askins’ invention led to significant advances in the field of medical technology such as improvements in the development of X-ray images. Medical images that were 96 percent underexposed become readable, allowing doctors to dramatically decrease the amount of X-ray radiation they gave to patients when running routine or emergency tests. Barbara Askins’ process was also later used in the restoration of old photographs.

Invention of Barbara Askins –  Female American chemist, inventor – A method to enhance underexposed photographic negatives

In 1978, Barbara Askins invented a way of enhancing the images using radioactive materials. She developed a method that used radiology to help improve the quality of underexposed and otherwise useless negatives — after the film was developed.

Patents of Barbara Askins –  Female American chemist, inventor

Barbara Askins received U.S. patent number 4,101,780 for her Method of Obtaining Intensified Image from Developed Photographic Films and Plates on July 18, 1978. Askins was the sole inventor on the project.

Barbara Askins earned the title of National Inventor of the Year in 1978 becoming the first individual woman to earn this honor.

Barbara Askins is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Sigma Xi honorary research Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the World Future Society.

 

44. Female Inventor Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, a reproductive biologist, discoverer of reverse transcriptase activity in normal human cells

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikipedia

Biography (Life) of Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, a reproductive biologist

Ann Anderson was born on March 29, 1942, in Baker, Oregon. She was interested in science from an early age. From 1960 to 1962, Ann Anderson attended Georgetown University and then the University of Virginia from 1962 to 1964, obtaining a degree in nursing.

Using her training as a nurse she could fund her bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry from Central Washington State College, from where she graduated in 1967.

Career of Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, a reproductive biologist

In 1967, Ann began her doctoral program at Oregon State University. She was interested in studying cancer and worked under Dr. George Beaudreau, who was investigating a family of viruses known to cause leukemia in chickens.

As a member of Beaudreau’s laboratory, Ann was among the first scientists to prove that a reverse enzyme – an enzyme in which genetic information flows from RNA to DNA – existed in this family of viruses. Her doctoral thesis defended in February 1971 was titled Nucleic Acid Polymerases Associated with Neoplasms.

Ann Kiessling career was based primarily at three institutions. From 1977 to 1985, at the Oregon Health Sciences University, from 1985 to 2012 at Harvard Medical School, from 1985 to 2012 at the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation, which she founded in 1996.

Ann Kiessling is regarded as an international leader in both reproductive biology and stem cell research. Her creation of the Bedford Foundation, an independent, non-profit research institute, arose from her desire to conduct work on biomedical topics that are avoided by larger institutions for political reasons.

The foundation’s research agenda includes experimentation on stem cells as they may relate to curing HIV and spinal cord injuries. Ann Kiessling has published more than 100 scientific papers and given more than 60 lectures to audiences around the world.

Inventions and Discoveries of Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, reproductive biologist

As a member of Beaudreau’s laboratory, Ann was among the first scientists to prove that a reverse enzyme – an enzyme in which genetic information flows from RNA to DNA – existed in this family of viruses.

Discovery of Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, reproductive biologist – Reverse Transcriptase Activity in Normal Human Cells

Kiessling is noted for her discovery of reverse transcriptase activity in normal human cells (Kiessling & Goulian)

As a post-doctoral fellow, Ann Kiessling worked on the connection between viruses and cancer. In 1979, she discovered that reverse viruses could be found in normal human cells, where previously they had been assumed to exist only in retroviruses.

Further, into this line of research, Ann Kiessling began to study human eggs and early cleaving embryos. This interest eventually led her to pursue work with human stem cells.

Patents of Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, a reproductive biologist

No patents registered. 

Awards and Honors of Ann Kiessling – Female American scientist, stem cell researcher, reproductive biologist

2007: Ann Kiessling’s Special Program of Assisted Reproduction was presented with the Technology Prize Paper Award by The American Society for Reproductive Medicine

2009: Dr. Kiessling received the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award for Biotechnology and Medicine

2010: Central Washington University Distinguished Alumni Award

2011: First ever the University of Virginia, School of Nursing, Alumni Achievement Award

2014: Honorary Doctorate and Lifetime Achievement Award from Jodhpur School of Public Health, Mumbai, India, presented at the 2014 HIV Congress in Mumbai

2014 – Oregon State University Commencement Address

2014 – Honorary Doctorate in Cell and Molecular Biology, Oregon State University

45. Female Inventor Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Female English scientist, physician, suffragist, co-founder of the first hospital staffed by women 

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the first woman to qualify as a doctor in England. She opened a school of medicine for women and paved the way for women’s medical education in Britain.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was born on June 9, 1836, in Whitechapel, London. She was the daughter of a pawnbroker with 12 children. Elizabeth was given a good education and decided to become a doctor after meeting Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor to graduate in the United States.

Elizabeth married James Anderson in 1871, and they had three children.

Medical Education of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Female English scientist, physician, suffragist

Elizabeth Anderson failed to get into any medical school because of medic. She enrolled as a nursing student at the Middlesex Hospital. Elizabeth attended classes with male colleagues but was barred after complaints.

In 1865, she took the Society of Apothecaries examination and qualified. The society subsequently changed its rules in order to ban women entrants.

In 1866, Elizabeth was appointed as a medical attendant at the St Mary’s Dispensary, London. Determined to become qualified as a doctor, Elizabeth taught herself French and got a medical degree in Paris. Despite her degree, she was still refused entry into the British Medical Register.

In 1872, Elizabeth set up the New Hospital for Women at the St Mary’s Dispensary, later it became the London School of Medicine for Women, where she appointed Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell as Professor of Gynaecology.

Career of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Female English scientist, physician, suffragist

Partly as a result of Elizabeth’s open campaigning, in 1876, an act was passed permitting women to enter the medical profession. In 1883, Elizabeth Anderson was appointed Dean at the London School of Medicine for Women and oversaw its expansion. In 1902, Elizabeth retired to Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where she became the first female mayor in England in 1908. 

BMA Membership of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Female English scientist, physician, suffragist

In 1873, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson gained membership of the British Medical Association (BMA) where she remained the only female member for 19 years. The BMA’s vote against the admission of further women was a narrowminded move to formally exclude any women who might seek to follow Elizabeth. In 1897, Garrett Anderson was elected president of the East Anglian branch of the British Medical Association. 

Women’s Suffrage Movement and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Female English scientist, physician, suffragist

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was also active in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1866, Elizabeth presented petitions signed by more than 1,500 asking that female heads of household be given the vote. 

That year, she joined the first British Women’s Suffrage Committee. She became a member of the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1889. As mayor of Aldeburgh, Elizabeth gave speeches for suffrage, before the increasing militant activity in the movement led to her withdrawal in 1911. 

Her daughter Louisa, also a physician, spent time in prison in 1912 for her suffrage activities.

Death of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Female English scientist, physician, suffragist

Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson died on December 17, 1917, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. She was 81. In 1918, the London School of Medicine for Women was renamed the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, which is now part of the University of London.

“Dr Garrett Anderson is a unique figure in the medical history of England.” [ … ] “At the request of the male students, she was required to leave the hospital.” -From Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s obituary, published by the British Medical Association (BMA). 

46. Female Inventor Shirley Ann Jackson – Female American scientist, physicist

Shirley Ann Jackson is an American physicist and the eighteenth president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Shirley Jackson is the first African-American woman to have earned a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Shirley Jackson was born on August 5, 1946, in Washington, D.C. Shirley attended accelerated programs in both math and science at Roosevelt Senior High School and graduated in 1964 as valedictorian.

Shirley Jackson began classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1964. She was one of fewer than twenty African-American students and the only one studying theoretical physics. In 1968, she earned her B.S. degree writing her thesis on solid-state physics.

Shirley Jackson stayed at MIT for her doctoral work, in part to encourage more African American students to attend the institution. Shirley worked on elementary particle theory. In 1973, she received her Ph.D. degree in nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree from MIT. Shirley Jackson is also the second African-American woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics.

Career of Shirley Ann Jackson – Female American scientist, physicist

In 1976, Shirley Jackson joined the Theoretical Physics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories.  Shirley began her time at Bell Labs by studying materials to be used in the semiconductor industry.

In 1978, Dr. Jackson became part of the Scattering and Low Energy Physics Research Department. In 1988, she moved to the Solid State and Quantum Physics Research Department.

At Bell Labs, Dr. Jackson researched the optical and electronic properties of two-dimensional and quasi-two-dimensional systems.

In her research, Dr. Jackson has made contributions to the knowledge of charged density waves in layered compounds, polaronic aspects of electrons in the surface of liquid helium films, and optical and electronic properties of semiconductor strained-layer superlattices. Dr. Shirley Jackson has prepared or collaborated on over 100 scientific articles.

From 1991 to 1995, Dr. Jackson served on the faculty at Rutgers University in Piscataway and New Brunswick, New Jersey. She also continued to consult with Bell Labs on semiconductor theory. Dr. Jackson’s research during this time focused on the electronic and optical properties of two-dimensional systems. 

In 1999, Dr. Jackson became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Dr. Shirley Jackson was the first woman and first African American to hold this position. Dr. Jackson enjoys the ongoing support of the RPI Board of Trustees. On April 26, 2006, the faculty of RPI (including a number of retirees) voted 155 to 149 against a vote of no-confidence in Jackson. 

Awards and Honors of Shirley Ann Jackson – Female American scientist, physicist

Shirley Jackson has received many fellowships, including the Martin Marietta Aircraft Company Scholarship and Fellowship, the Prince Hall Masons Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Traineeship, and a Ford Foundation Advanced Study Fellowship.

Shirley Jackson has been elected to numerous special societies, including the American Physical Society and American Philosophical Society. In 2014, she was named the recipient of the National Medal of Science

Shirley has been recognized in the fields of science and education with multiple awards, including the CIBA-GEIGY Exceptional Black Scientist Award. In the early 1990s, Governor James Florio awarded her the Thomas Alva Edison Science Award for her contributions to physics and for the promotion of science.

In 2001, Shirley received the Richtmyer Memorial Award given annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers. She has also received many honorary doctorate degrees.

In both 1976 and 1981, Shirley Jackson received awards as one of the Outstanding Young Women of America. She received a Candace Award for Technology from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1982.

In 1985, Governor Thomas Kean appointed her to the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. Shirley Jackson was inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998. 

Shirley Jackson is an active voice in numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Science Foundation.

Her continuing aim has been to preserve and strengthen the U.S. national capacity for innovation by increasing support for basic research in science and engineering. In 2004, Shirley became president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in 2005, she chaired the AAAS board.

In 2007, Shirley was awarded the Vannevar Bush Award for a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.

Shirley Jackson continues to be involved in politics and public policy. In 2008, she became the University Vice Chairman of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, a non-for profit group based in Washington, D.C.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Shirley Jackson to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a 20-member advisory group dedicated to public policy.

In 2012, Shirley Jackson was appointed an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng). 

47. Female Inventor Olga D. González-Sanabria – Female Puerto Rican chemical engineer, scientist, and co-inventor of Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries

Female Inventors and Their Inventions That Changed the World and Impacted the History In a Revolutionary Way
Source: Wikipedia


Biography (Life) of Olga D. González-Sanabria – Female Puerto Rican chemical engineer, scientist, and co-inventor

Olga González-Sanabria was born in Patillas, Puerto Rico. After graduating from high school, she entered the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and earned her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering. She continued her academic education at the University of Toledo in Ohio, where she earned her master’s degree also in chemical engineering.

Career of Olga D. González-Sanabria – Female Puerto Rican chemical engineer, scientist, and co-inventor

Olga Gonzalez-Sanabria is the highest-ranking Hispanic at NASA Glenn Research Center and a member of the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Olga is Director of the Engineering and Technical Services, and responsible for planning and directing a full range of integrated services including engineering, fabrication, testing, facility management, and aircraft services for the Glenn Research Center.

In 1979, Olga began her NASA career as chief of its Glenn Research Center’s Plans and Programs Office and executive officer to the Center’s Director. González-Sanabria also served as Director of the Systems Management Office during which she oversaw the implementation of Glenn’s Business Management System ISO 9000 certification.

In 2002, Olga González-Sanabria was appointed to Senior Rank and named the director of the Systems Management Office at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, becoming the highest-ranking Hispanic at NASA Glenn. Olga was also named a member of the U.S. government’s Senior Executive Service. 

Her responsibilities include the development of Center level strategic processes, implementation planning, and decision guidelines for program direction and resource allocation.

Olga Gonzalez-Sanabria also ensures development and implementation of Center policies, processes and procedures that are consistent with NASA’s Program and Project Management Processes and Requirements and oversees the implementation of Glenn’s Business Management System.

Gonzalez-Sanabria is also responsible for Plum Brook Station, a 6,400-acre (26 km2) field station that houses four world-class research facilities. The Directorate is the largest at Glenn with a workforce of approximately 650 engineers, technicians, pilots, and support personnel.

Olga Gonzalez-Sanabria has authored/co-authored over 30 technical reports and presentations for journals and conferences including: 

– Effect of NASA advanced designs on thermal behavior of Ni-H2 cells, published in 1987

– Component variations and their effects on bipolar nickel-hydrogen cell performance, published in 1987

– NASA Aerospace Flight Battery Systems Program – Issues and actions, published in 1988

– Effect of NASA advanced designs on thermal behavior of Ni-H2 cells 2, published in 1988

-Energy storage considerations for a robotic Mars surface sampler, published in 1989

Invention of Olga D. González-Sanabria – Female Puerto Rican chemical engineer, scientist, and co-inventor – Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries

Olga Gonzalez-Sanabria played a fundamental role in the development of the Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries which helps enable the International Space Station power system, for which she held a patent.  

On October 7, 2003, González-Sanabria was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. She was awarded an R&D 100 Award in recognition of this effort.

In 2002, she was awarded The NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, and in 1993, she received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. She also received the Women of Color in Technology Career Achievement Award in 2000, and an R&D 100 Award in 1988.

In 2007, González-Sanabria was recognized by the HENAAC (Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference) under the category Executive Excellence. According to HENNAC, the winners in each category represent the nation’s best and brightest engineers and scientists.

In 2004, Olga González-Sanabria was featured, together with her husband Rafael Sanabria, as NASA Glenn’s Dynamic Duo in HENAAC’s Technical Magazine cover story.

48. Female Inventor Temple Grandin – Female American animal scientist, autism spokesperson, inventor of hug box

 

Mary Temple Grandin is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and autism spokesperson. She invented the hug box device to calm those on the autism spectrum.

Mary Temple Grandin was born on August 29, 1947) in Boston, Massachusetts, into a wealthy family. Her mother is Anna Eustacia Purves (now Cutler), an actress, singer, and granddaughter of John Coleman Purves, the co-inventor for the autopilot aviation system. 

Her father was Richard McCurdy Grandin, a real estate agent and heir to the largest corporate wheat farm business in America at the time, Grandin Farms. Temple’s parents divorced when she was 15.

In 1965, her mother eventually married Ben Cutler, a renowned New York saxophonist. Her father Richard died in California in 1993.

Temple Grandin has three siblings, two sisters and a brother. Temple has described one of her sisters as being dyslexic. Her younger sister is an artist, her other sister a sculptor, and her brother a banker. 

Temple’s mother took her to the world’s leading special needs researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital, with the hope of unearthing an alternative to institutionalization.

Having the financial resources to hire specialists to ensure her daughter was not institutionalized, Temple’s mother located a neurologist who suggested a trial of speech therapy.

They soon hired a speech therapist, and Temple received personalized input from the age of 2 and a half. A nanny was also hired when Temple was aged 3 to play educational games with her.

Temple’s mother actively sought out and paid for private schools with sympathetic staff who were willing to work with her daughter’s special needsHer teachers and class strove to create an environment to accommodate Temple’s needs and sensitivities.

Temple considers herself fortunate to have had supportive mentors from elementary school onward. However, she states that junior high and high school were the most unpleasant times of her life.

Once, Temple was expelled from school at the age of 14 for throwing a book at a schoolmate who had taunted her. Temple Grandin has described herself as the nerdy kid whom everyone ridiculed, describing occasions when she walked down the hallways and her fellow students would taunt her by saying tape recorder because of her habit of repetitive speech.

“I could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt.”

At 15, Temple spent a summer on the Arizona ranch of Ben Cutler’s sister, Ann. This would be a formative experience towards her subsequent career interest.

In 1966, Temple Grandin graduated from Mountain Country School and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in human psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, a master’s degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.

Beyond her work in animal science and welfare and autism rights, Temple’s interests include horse riding, science fiction, movies, and biochemistry.

In her autobiographical works Temple has stated that autism affects every aspect of her life. She has to wear comfortable clothes to counteract her sensory processing disorder and has structured her lifestyle to avoid sensory overload.

She regularly takes antidepressants, but no longer uses a squeeze-box (the hug machine), which she invented as a form of stress relief therapy, 

In February 2010, Temple Grandin stated that: “It [the hug box] broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I’m into hugging people now.” 

Autism Diagnosis of Temple Grandin – Female American animal scientist, autism spokesperson, inventor

Temple Grandin was never formally diagnosed with autism in childhood or in youth. The only formal diagnosis received by Temple was of ‘brain damage’ at the age of 2, a finding corroborated subsequently when she was 64 years old, by cerebral imaging carried out in 2010 at the University of Utah. 

When Temple was in her mid-teens, her mother completed a checklist on autism published by Dr. Bernard Rimland, a renowned American psychologist and founder of the Autism Research Institute. By completing the checklist, Temple’s mother hypothesized that her daughter’s symptoms were best explained by autism.

Only when Temple Grandin was in her 40s, a formal diagnosis consistent with being on the autistic spectrum was made. Temple was later determined to be an autistic savant as well.

Career of Temple Grandin – Female American animal scientist, autism spokesperson, inventor

Author of books on autism

Temple Grandin is a prominent and widely cited proponent for the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter. Temple is also internationally famous as a spokesperson on autism and a prolific author of books on autism.

Temple Grandin was one of the first adults to publicly disclose that she was autistic. Grandin’s first book Emergence: Labeled Autistic was published in 1986. Dr. Bernard Rimland, father of a son with autism and author of the book Infantile Autism wrote the foreword: “Temple’s ability to convey to the reader her innermost feelings and fears, coupled with her capacity for explaining mental processes will give the reader an insight into autism that very few have been able to achieve.”

In Grandin’s later book Thinking in Pictures, published in 1995, the neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote at the end of the foreword that Temple Grandin’s book provided “a bridge between our world and hers, and allows us to glimpse into a quite other sort of mind.”

In her early writings, Temple Grandin presented herself as a recovered autistic. However, in her later writings, this has been removed.

Steve Silberman wrote on Temple Grandin: “It became obvious to her, however, that she was not recovered but had learned with great effort to adapt to the social norms of the people around her.”

In 1995, Temple Grandin wrote her book Thinking in Pictures. At the time, she thought that all individuals with autism thought in photographic specific images the way she did. In 2006, when the expanded edition was published, she realized it was wrong to assume that every person with autism processed information the same way she did. In this edition, she wrote that there are three types of specialized thinking:

Visual Thinkers like her, who think in photographically specific images

  1. Music and Math Thinkers – these people think in patterns and may be good at mathematics, chess, and programming computers

  2. Verbal Logic Thinkers – These people think in word details, and their favorite subject may be history

In Grandin’s book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, published in 2013, Grandin further develops the concept of three different types of thinking. Clara Claiborne Park’s book titled Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter’s Life with Autism, published in 2001, was an influential book which helped Temple Grandin develop her concept of pattern thinking. 

The Autistic Brain also contains an extensive review of scientific studies providing evidence that object visual thinking is different from spatial visualization abilities.

Temple Grandin first spoke in public about autism in the mid-1980s, at the request of Ruth C. Sullivan, one of the founders of the Autism Society of America (ASA). Sullivan writes:

Based on personal experience, Grandin advocates early intervention to address autism and supportive teachers, who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions. She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She says words are her second language and that she thinks totally in pictures, using her vast visual memory to translate information into a slideshow of mental images that can be manipulated or correlated.

As a partial proponent of neurodiversity, Temple Grandin does not support eliminating autism genes or treating mildly autistic individuals. However, she believes that autistic children who are severely handicapped need therapy with applied behavioral analysis. 

Writer of scientific papers

Temple Grandin is the author or co-author of over 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers on a variety of animal behavior subjects. Some of the subjects include, the effect of hair whorl position on cattle behavior, preslaughter stress and meat quality, religious slaughter, mothering behavior of beef cows, cattle temperament, and causes of bruising.

In 1980, Temple Grandin published her first two scientific articles on beef cattle behavior during handling: “Livestock Behavior as Related to Handling Facilities Design” in the International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, and “Observations of Cattle Behavior Applied to the Design of Cattle Handling Facilities”, Applied Animal Ethology.

Temple Grandin was one of the first scientists to report that animals are sensitive to visual distractions in handling facilities such as shadows, dangling chains, and other environmental details most people do not notice.

When Dr. Grandin got her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, she studied the effects of environmental enrichment on pigs. She wrote her dissertation “Effect of Rearing Environment and Environmental Enrichment on the Behavior and Neural Development in Young Pigs.” Later, Grandin expanded on these theories in her book Animals Make Us Human.

In 1993, Temple Grandin edited the first edition of Livestock Handling and Transport, with subsequent editions of the book published in 2000, 2007, and 2014. In Grandin’s academic work as a professor at Colorado State University, her graduate student Bridgett Voisinet conducted one of the early studies that showed that cattle that remained calm during handling had higher weight gains.

In 1997, when the paper “Feedlot Cattle with Calm Temperaments Have Higher Average Daily Gains Than Cattle with Excitable Temperaments was published, this was a new concept. The paper was published in The Journal of Animal Science.

Another important paper published by Grandin was “Assessment of Stress During Handling and Transport”, Journal of Animal Science, 1997. Grandin’s paper introduced the idea that an animal’s previous experiences with handling could have an effect on how it will react to being handled in the future, which was then a new concept in the animal-handling industry.

Temple Grandin has lectured widely about her first-hand experiences of the anxiety of feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings, and of being dismissed and feared, which motivates her to work in humane livestock handling processes. Grandin’s business Website promotes the improvement of standards for slaughterhouses and livestock farms.

In one of her essays, Animals Are Not Things, Grandin posits that technically, animals are property in society, but the law ultimately gives them ethical protections or rights.

She compares the difference between owning cows versus owning screwdrivers, explaining how both may be used to serve human purposes in many ways, but when it comes to inflicting pain, there is a vital distinction between such properties.

Legally,  a person can smash or grind up a screwdriver, but cannot torture an animal. In theory at least, since animal torture is an overlooked reality. 

Inventions of Temple Grandin – Female American animal scientist, autism spokesperson, inventor

Temple Grandin developed a major piece of equipment that was a center track (double rail) conveyor restrainer system for holding cattle during stunning in large beef plants. The first system was installed in the mid-eighties for calves. Later, a system for large beef cattle was developed in 1990. This equipment is used by many large meat companies. 

Temple Grandin also developed an objective numerical scoring system for assessing animal welfare at slaughter plants. The use of this scoring system significantly improved animal stunning and handling during slaughter. 

Temple Grandin studied the behavior of cattle, how they react to ranchers, movements, objects, and light. Then she designed adapted curved corrals, intended to reduce stress, panic, and injury in animals being led to slaughter.

This has been a point of criticism and controversy among animal activists who have questioned the congruence of a career built on animal slaughter alongside Grandin’s claims of compassion and respect for animals.

While her designs are widely used throughout the slaughterhouse industry, her claim of compassion for the animals is that because of her autism she can see the animals’ reality from their viewpoint, that when she holds an animal’s head in her hands as it is being slaughtered, she feels a deep, godlike connection to them.

Temple Grandin attributes her success as a humane livestock facility designer to her ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of her visual memory. Grandin compares her memory to full-length movies in her head, that may be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details.

Temple’s insight into the minds of cattle has taught her to value the changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal-handling equipment.

If Temple Grandin can’t change the fact that humans will, at least for some time, continue to slaughter animals for food, she can use her skills and understanding of animal sensitivity in order to provide them with a less stressful and scary death. 

Invention of Temple Grandin – Female American animal scientist, autism spokesperson, inventor – Hug Box

Temple Grandin wrote the paper Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals to explain the therapeutic calming effect of her invention, the Hug Box or Squeeze Machine.

Because of her autism, Temple Grandin resisted the touch of others and didn’t like to be hugged. However, she craved the feeling of being held. When Temple was eighteen, she saw a herd of cattle being passed through a mechanism used to keep cattle still while a veterinarian gives them their antibiotic shots.

In her book, Animals in Translation, she wrote: “Watching those cattle calm down, I knew I needed a squeeze chute of my own.”

With the support and help from her science teacher at her high school Temple built her own squeeze machine. “I bought my own air compressor, and I used plywood boards for the V.  It worked beautifully.  Whenever I put myself inside my squeeze machine, I felt calmer. I still use it today.” Temple Grandin provides detailed instructions for building her squeeze machine on her Website. The squeeze machine is also available ready-made from the Therafin Corporation.

Patents of Temple Grandin – Female American animal scientist, autism spokesperson, inventor

 Awards and Honors of Temple Grandin

– In 2004, Temple Grandin won a Proggy award in the Visionary category, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

– In 2009, Temple was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

– In 2010, Temple Grandin was named in the Time 100 list of the one hundred most influential people in the world in the Heroes category

– In 2011, she received a Double Helix Medal

– She has received honorary degrees from many universities including McGill University in Canada (1999), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (2009), Carnegie Mellon University in the United States (2012), and Emory University (2016)

– In 2012, Temple Grandin was inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame

– In 2015, she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication

– In 2015, Temple Grandin received a Meritorious Achievement Award from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

– In 2016, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

– In 2017, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame

49. Female inventor Radia Perlman –  American Software designer, network engineer  

Radia Joy Perlman is an American computer programmer and network engineer. She invented the spanning-tree protocol (STP), which is fundamental to the operation of network bridges, while working for Digital Equipment Corporation.

Radia Perlman also made large contributions to many other areas of network design and standardization, such as link-state routing protocols. She has invented the TRILL protocol to correct some of the shortcomings of spanning-trees. She is currently employed by Dell EMC.

Radia Perlman grew up near Asbury Park, New Jersey. Both of her parents worked as engineers for the U.S. government. Radia’s father worked on radar and her mother was a mathematician by training who worked as a computer programmer.

Radia once said both math and science were “effortless and fascinating” for her. She also enjoyed playing the piano and French horn. 

“I was not a hands-on type person. It never occurred to me to take anything apart. I assumed I’d either get electrocuted, or I’d break something”. -Radia Perlman

Radia was the best science and math student in her school, but it was not until she took a programming class in high school that she started to consider a career that involved computers. She was the only woman in the class.

It was when Radia joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) group at BBN Technologies that she first got involved with designing network protocols. Radia Perlman obtained a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 1988. Radia’s doctoral thesis at MIT addressed the issue of routing in the presence of malicious network failures.

When Radia was studying at MIT in the late 60s, she was one among the 50 or so women students in a class of about 1,000 students. The MIT only had one women’s dorm, limiting the number of women students that could study.

Then the men’s dorms at MIT became coed, and Radia moved out of the women’s dorm into a mixed dorm, where she became the resident female. She later said that she was so used to the gender imbalance, that it became normal. It was only when she saw other women students among a crowd of men she noticed that “it kind of looked weird.”

Career of Radia Perlman – Female American software designer, network engineer, inventor

In 1971, Radia got her first paid job as a part-time programmer for the LOGO Lab at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, programming system software such as debuggers.

Radia worked under the supervision of Seymour Papert and developed a child-friendly version of the educational robotics language LOGO, called TORTIS (Toddler’s Own Recursive Turtle Interpreter System).

During research performed from 1974 to 1976, young children, the youngest aged three and a half years, programmed a LOGO educational robot called a Turtle. Radia Perlman has been described as a pioneer of teaching young children computer programming.

Radia Perlman is the author of a textbook on networking and co-author of another on network security. Radia was a Fellow at Sun Microsystems and has taught courses at the University of Washington, Harvard University, and MIT. She has also been the keynote speaker at events all over the world.  

Radia Perlman worked as network engineer for Sun Microsystems, now Oracle. She specialized in network and security protocols.

Inventions of Radia Perlman – Female American software designer, network engineer, inventor

Radia Perlman was the principal designer of the DECnet IV and V protocols, which are part of the DECnet network protocol suite for peer-to-peer network architectures. Radia also made major contributions to the Connectionless Network Protocol (CLNP).

Radia Perlman collaborated with Yakov Rekhter on developing network routing standards, such as the Open System Interconnection Routing Protocol (IDRP), which allows routers in packet switching networks to communicate with one another across broadcast domains.

At DEC Radia also oversaw the transition from distance vector to link-state routing protocols. Link-state routing protocols had the advantage that they adapted to changes in the network topology faster, and DEC’s link-state routing protocol was second only to the link-state routing protocol of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

While Radia Perlman was working on the DECnet project she also helped to improve the intermediate-system to intermediate-system routing protocol, known as IS-IS, so that it could route the Internet Protocol (IP), AppleTalk, and the Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) protocol.

Invention of Radia Perlman – Female American software designer, network engineer, inventor – Spanning-Tree protocol (STP)

Radia Perlman was working as a consultant engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) when she developed her most famous invention: the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which is fundamental to the operation of network bridges.

According to Perlman’s paper “An Algorithm for Distributed Computation of a Spanning Tree in an Extended LAN,” in 1984, Radia Perlman was tasked with developing a straightforward protocol which enabled network bridges to locate loops in a local area network (LAN).

It was required that the protocol should use a constant amount of memory when implemented on the network devices, regardless of how large the network was. Building and expanding bridged networks was difficult because loops, where more than one path leads to the same destination, could result in the collapse of the network.

Redundant paths in the network meant that a bridge could forward a frame in multiple directions. Therefore loops could cause Ethernet frames do not reach their destination, flooding the network. Perlman utilized the fact that bridges had unique 48 bit MAC addresses, and devised a network protocol so that bridges within the LAN communicated with one another. The algorithm implemented on all bridges in the network allowed the bridges to designate one root bridge in the network. Each bridge then mapped the network and determined the shortest path to the root bridge, deactivating other redundant paths.

Despite Perlman’s concerns that it took the spanning tree protocol about a minute to react when changes in the network topology occurred, in which time a loop could bring down the network, it was standardized as 802.1d by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Perlman said that the benefits of the protocol amount to the fact that “you don’t have to worry about topology” when changing the way a LAN is interconnected. Perlman has, however, criticized that changes were made in the course of the standardization of the protocol.

Invention of Radia Perlman – Female American software designer, network engineer, inventor spanning-tree protocol (STP) – Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL)

Radia Perlman invented the TRILL protocol to correct some of the shortcomings of spanning-trees. 

Patents of Radia Perlman – Female American software designer, network engineer, inventor

Radia Perlman holds more than 100 issued patents. While working for Oracle she obtained more than 50 patents. 

Awards and Honors of Radia Perlman – Female American software designer, network engineer, inventor

– Twice named as one of the 20 most influential people in the industry by Data Communications magazine: in the 20th-anniversary issue on January 15, 1992, and the 25th-anniversary issue on January 15, 1997. Perlman is the only person to be named in both issues

– Honorary Doctorate, Royal Institute of Technology, on June 28, 2000

– Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association Inventor of the year, in 2003

– Recipient of the first Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award for Innovation in 2005

– USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006

– Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communication, SIGCOMM Award, in 2010

– Internet Hall of Fame induction, in 2014

– National Inventors Hall of Fame induction, in 2016

– Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, class of 2016

50. Female Inventor Marissa Mayer – Female American computer scientist, software engineer, and businessperson

Marissa Mayer was born on May 30, 1975, in Wausau, Wisconsin. She is the daughter of Margaret Mayer, an art teacher of Finnish descent, and Michael Mayer, an environmental engineer who worked for water companies. 

Marissa’s after-school activities included ballet, ice-skating, piano, swimming, debate, and Brownies. Marissa took piano and ballet lessons during middle school and high school. Ballet is what taught her criticism and discipline, poise, and confidence. 

She also showed an interest in math and science at an early age. Marissa excelled in chemistry, calculus, biology, and physics. In 1993, after graduating from high school, Marissa was selected as one of Wisconsin’s two delegates to attend the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia.

Marissa took pre-med classes at Stanford University when she thought she wanted to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. However, she later switched her major from pediatric neuroscience to symbolic systems a major which combined philosophy, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and computer science.

During her time at Stanford, she danced in the university ballet’s Nutcracker, was a member of parliamentary debate, volunteered at children’s hospitals, and helped bring computer science education to Bermuda’s schools. In 1997, Marissa Mayer graduated with honors from Stanford with a BS in symbolic systems and an MS in computer science in 1999. She especialized in artificial intelligence for both degrees.

In 2009, the Illinois Institute of Technology granted Marissa Mayer an honoris causa doctorate degree in recognition of her work in the field of search. But perhaps it was her research internships at SRI International in Menlo Park, California, and the UBS research lab in Zurich that helped Marissa net 14 job offers out of grad school.

Career of Marissa Mayer – Female American computer scientist, software engineer and businessperson

After graduating from Stanford, Marissa Mayer received 14 job offers, including a teaching job at Carnegie Mellon University and a consulting job at McKinsey&Company. 

She accepted Google’s offer in 1999, as employee number 20. After resigning from Google in 2012, she became Yahoo!’s president and CEO the next day, from where she resigned in 2017.

“Ruthlessly prioritize.” -Marissa Mayer

In 2018, Marissa Mayer is launching Lumi Labs, a technology business incubator. Lumi Labs will focus on consumer media and artificial intelligence. Lumi means ‘snow’ in Finnish.  

Google Career of Marissa Mayer – Female American computer scientist, software engineer and businessperson

Marissa Mayer’s 14th job offer came from Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who quizzed Marissa on artificial intelligence while sitting at a ping-pong table that the company used for conferences.

In 1999, Google wasn’t yet an Internet search giant. The startup had only 19 employees. Marissa accepted the offer to lead Google’s user interface and Web server teams. She became the company’s 20th employee and its first female engineer.

“Find your rhythm.” -Marissa Mayer

Her work at Google involved some of the company’s most recognizable and successful products, including Google Maps, Google Earth, Street View, Google News, and Gmail. Known as a fashionista with an eye for design, Marissa Mayer is widely credited for the unique look and feel that has come to characterize the Google experience.

She was responsible for approving each “doodle” (the custom logos commemorating holidays and events) appearing on the Google home page.

Marissa Mayer spent more than a decade at Google accumulating accolades for her work ethic, eye for detail, and vision. She went through a variety of positions at Google.

She started out writing code and overseeing small teams of engineers, developing and designing Google’s search offerings. Then she got promoted to product manager, and later she became director of consumer web products.

She also oversaw the layout of Google’s minimalistic search homepage. She was also on the three-person team responsible for Google AdWords, which is an advertising platform that allows businesses to show their product to relevant potential customers based on their search terms. In the first quesrter of 2011, AdWords deliver 96% of the company’s revenue.

In 2002, Marissa Mayer started the Associate Product Manager (APM) program, a Google mentorship initiative to recruit new talents and cultivate them for leadership roles. Marissa selected a number of junior employees for the two-year program, where they took on extracurricular assignments and intensive evening classes. Graduates of the annual program include Bret Taylor and Justin Rosenstein.

 “Surround yourself with smart people.” -Marissa Mayer

In 2005, Marissa Mayer became Vice President of Search Products and User Experience. She held key roles in Google Search, Google Images, Google News, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Product Search, Google Toolbar, iGoogle, and Gmail. She kept this position intil the end of 2010 when then-CEO Eric Schmidt asked her to head the Local, Maps, and Location Services. 

In 2011, Marissa secured Google’s acquisition of survey site Zagat for $125 million. While she was working at Google, Marissa also taught Introductory Computer Programming at Stanford and mentored students at the East Palo Alto Charter School. 

Yahoo Career of Marissa Mayer – Female American computer scientist, software engineer, and businessperson

On July 16, 2012, Marissa Mayer resigned from Google and was appointed the president and CEO of Yahoo!, effective the following day. 

Marissa Mayer launched a new online program called PB&J which collects employee complaints, as well as their votes on problems in the office; if a problem generates at least 50 votes, online management automatically investigates the matter. In February 2013, Marissa oversaw a major personnel policy change at Yahoo! in which all remote-working employees were asked to convert to in-office roles. 

“Do something you’re not ready to do.” -Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer herself had worked from home toward the end of her pregnancy. When she returned to work after giving birth to a boy she built a mother’s room next to her office suite. She was then criticized for the telecommuting ban.

In April 2013, she changed Yahoo!’s maternity leave policy, lengthening its time allowance and providing a cash bonus to parents. Facebook and Google were already doing this. 

On May 20, 2013, Marissa Mayer led Yahoo! to acquire Tumblr in a $1.1 billion acquisition. By February 2016, the value of Tumblr had fallen by $230 million since it was acquired.

In July 2013, Yahoo! reported a fall in revenues, but a rise in profits compared with the same period in the previous year. Much of this growth may be attributed to Yahoo!’s stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which was acquired before Marissa Mayer’s tenure.

In November 2013, Marissa Mayer instituted a performance review system based on a bell curve ranking of employees. Through the system, managers rank their employees on a bell curve, with those at the low end being fired. Employees started to complain that some managers were viewing the process as mandatory.

In February 2016, a former Yahoo! employee filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that Yahoo’s firing practices have violated both California and federal labor laws.

 “Work in small teams.” -Marissa Mayer

In 2016, Yahoo! stocks continued to fall by more than 30% while 12 key executives left the company.

By January 2016, it was estimated that Yahoo!’s core business had been worth less than zero dollars for the past few quarters. During the next month, Marissa Mayer confirmed that Yahoo! was considering selling its core business. In March 2017, it was reported that Marissa Mayer could receive a $23 million termination package upon the sale of Yahoo! to Verizon. 

On June 13, 2017, Marissa Mayer announced her resignation. Over her five years as CEO, she was paid a total of $239 million, mainly in stock and stock options. This, despite the large losses in advertising revenue at Yahoo! and a 50% reduction in staff.  

On the day of her resignation, Marissa Mayer publicly highlighted many of the company’s achievements during her tenure such as creating $43 billion in market capitalization, tripling Yahoo! stock, growing mobile users to over 650 million, building a $1.5 billion mobile ad business, and transforming Yahoo’s culture.

“Share information.” -Marissa Mayer

On 8 November 2017, Marissa Mayer, along with several other present and former corporate CEOs, testified before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding major security breaches at Yahoo during 2013 and 2014.

Patents of Marissa Mayer – Female American computer scientist, software engineer, and businessperson

Marissa Mayer holds several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design.

Awards and Honors of Marissa Mayer – Female American computer scientist, software engineer, and businessperson

She was awarded the Centennial Teaching Award and the Forsythe Award from Stanford.

Marissa Mayer was named to Fortune magazine’s annual list of America’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 with ranks at 50, 44, 42, 38, 14, 8, and 16 respectively. In 2008, at age 33, she was the youngest woman ever listed.

In 2009, Marissa Mayer was named one of Glamour Magazines Women of the Year. She was listed in Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2012, 2013 and 2014, with ranks of 20, 32, and 18 respectively.

In September 2013, Marissa became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to be featured in Vogue magazine. Also in 2013, Marissa Mayer made Fortune magazine history, as the only person to feature in all three of the magazine’s annual lists during the same year: Businessperson of the Year (10th), Most Powerful Women (8th), and 40 Under 40 (1st) at the same time.

In March 2016, Fortune also named Marissa Mayer as one of the world’s most disappointing leaders. In 2015, Marissa Mayer was listed by UK-based company Richtopia as the 14th of 500 Most Influential CEOs. A clear example of how you can be the best and the worst all at the same time.

Marissa Mayer appeared on the List of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in 2017, has ranked 498 of the top 500 Fortune 500 company CEOs.

51. Female Inventor Rachel Zimmerman – Canadian-born space scientist, inventor of Blissymbol Printer

Rachel Zimmerman Brachman is a Canadian-born space scientist and inventor. She invented the Blissymbol Printer in 1984, making it easy for users with physical disabilities to communicate.

Rachel Zimmerman was born in 1972 in London, Ontario. Since Rachel was a young girl, she showed great interest in art, debate, music, and especially science. 

In 1995, Rachel earned a BA in physics from Brandeis University and a master’s degree in Space Science from the International Space University in France in 1998. 

Rachel attempted to earn a master’s degree in astronomy as well, from the University of Western Ontario. Unfortunately, after only two months into the program, she was hit by a car while riding her bike and was forced to drop out of the program. You have to wonder if the driver ever knew the damage they caused to Rachel’s life and career, and to science.  

Career of Rachel Zimmerman – Canadian-born space scientist, inventor

Rachel’s interest in space technology and assistive intelligence, made Rachel a great fit to work for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a goal of tailoring NASA innovations to the needs of people with disabilities.

Rachel has worked at the NASA Ames Research Center, the Canadian Space Agency, The Planetary Society, and the California Institute of Technology. Since 2003, Rachel works as Solar System and Technology Education, and Public Outreach Specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Rachel organized a Saturn essay contest for middle school and high school students in over 50 countries. Her work has been published in the Planetary Report, the Journal of the National Space Society, and NASA’s Ames Research Center Astrogram

Rachel Zimmerman is currently working on Radioisotope Power System Public Engagement as well as formal education for the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan. She also leads teacher professional development workshops at National Science Teachers Association and California Science Teachers Association annual conferences. From 2013 to 2016, Rachel was president of Science Education for Students with Disabilities.

Rachel holds the title of Solar System and Technology Education in Public Outreach Special Specialist for NASA. 

Invention of Rachel Zimmerman – Canadian-born space scientist, inventor – Blissymbol Printer

Rachel was 12 years old when she developed a software program using Blissymbols inventing the Blissymbol Printer in 1984. Thanks to her invention, users with severe physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, can have an easy method of communication.

“My invention, the Blisssymbol Printer, allowed people to communicate across space and time before people has email or Internet access.” -Rachel Zimmerman 

A user of the Blissymbol Printer can simply point to various symbols on a page or board through the use of a special touchpad. When the user chooses a symbol, the Blissymbol Printer converts the image to written English or French. This allows the user’s thoughts to be transcribed effectively.

Awards and Honors of Rachel Zimmerman – Canadian-born space scientist, inventor

In 1985, Rachel won a silver medal at the Canada-wide, World Exhibition of Young Inventors for her original science project idea. Rachel also won the YTV Television Youth Achievement Award.

In 2011, Rachel Zimmerman received the Visionary Award of the Women in Film and Television Showcase at the Toronto International Film Festival (The WIFTS).

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