Published On: Mon, Jul 16th, 2018

These 3 Women Inventors Changed the World

Throughout history, women inventors have come up with groundbreaking ideas covering everything from improving life at home to advancing science and technology. Here’s a look at three female inventors you’ve probably never heard of and how they changed the world.

Florence Lawrence

Florence Lawrence, Actress and Inventor

Automotive blogger Alex Perdikis remembered inventor Florence Lawrence in a recent post and for good reason. Her inventions have saved millions of lives over the years and are still used today.

Born either in 1886 or 1890, Florence Lawrence was the daughter of a horseless carriage builder and a vaudeville actress. Florence made her film debut in 1906. Her silent movie career soared over the next few years right along with the popularity of the new entertainment medium. She starred in nearly 300 films and became history’s first movie star.

Along with stardom came money. And with some of that money, Florence purchased a car. She took to driving and loved being behind the wheel as much as she loved to act.

Florence learned everything she could about how the car worked mechanically. She also realized that safety was becoming an issue as more and more cars hit the road. Her mind went to work. And what she came up with was pure genius.

The simple yet ingenious device she invented gave drivers a way to alert drivers behind they were about to turn. The push of a button caused a flag to raise on the rear bumper and the very first turn signal was born.

Florence Lawrence also invented the first electric windshield wiper. Unfortunately, she didn’t patent either invention and reaped no financial rewards. That doesn’t diminish her standing, however, as a female inventor who changed the world by making the roads a safer place.

Margaret Knight, Nicknamed “Lady Edison”

Margaret Knight invented so many products, from machines to protective garments, that journalists dubbed her “Lady Edison,” comparing her to contemporary inventor Thomas Edison.

Born in Maine in 1838, Margaret began working in a textile mill as a young girl. While working one day, she witnessed a machinery accident which injured a co-worker. The accident led to Margaret’s first invention, a textile loom safety device.

Margaret received 27 patents in all. Her inventions included a machine that cut, folded and glued paper shopping bags; shoe-manufacturing devices; an internal combustion engine; a rotary engine; and a shield for women’s dresses that protected the fabric from perspiration stains.

Katharine Burr Blodgett, Scientist and Inventor

Katharine Burr Blodgett was not only the first woman to receive a physics PhD at Cambridge University, she was also the first female hired by General Electric. Her research during WWII proved invaluable as soldiers fought in the trenches.

Katharine was instrumental in developing smoke screens, new methods for de-icing planes and the development of gas masks. But it was her work in molecular level chemistry that resulted in her most important invention: non-reflective glass.

Although non-reflective glass had military applications, such as in submarine periscopes, it is widely used today in computer monitors, vehicle windshields and eyeglasses.

These three female inventors were certainly not alone. You can thank Melitta Bentz for the coffeemaker on your counter. Stephanie Kwolek invented what is now known as Kevlar. Women inventors of the past made their mark in history and hundreds now living look to do the same.

Author: Zainab Sheikh

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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