By the beginning of this century, of all issued patents, only one tenth belonged to women. As a result, compiling a list of the most significant discoveries over the past few centuries, it turns out that their authors were rarely ladies. And the point is not even that they lack a creative streak or that the brain is arranged differently. It is just that women are much more likely to face numerous obstacles in obtaining support and funding for their projects.
Suffice it to recall the case of Sibylla Masters, who lived in the American colonies. She, watching the work of Indian women, figured out how to turn corn into flour. To obtain a patent for her invention, the woman went to London. But then there were laws that did not allow ladies to have any property, including intellectual property, in the form of patents.
Usually the property belonged to the woman's father or her husband. When the patent was issued in 1715, it did not contain the name of Sibylla herself, but the name of her husband. For a long time, laws did not allow women to officially register their inventions. In addition, they received and still receive technical education much less often. But it is precisely this that helps in many ways to give birth to brilliant ideas and turn them into a finished product.
Unfortunately, many women have also faced male prejudice and ridicule when seeking help for their projects. History has preserved the name of the first woman to receive a patent in her name. Mary Keys became her. In 1809, she created a special method of weaving straw hats, which helped enrich all of New England.
Obtaining a patent in the name of a woman opened the way for other inventors, who received the legal right to secure their discoveries. Here are ten of the most significant ones.
A circular saw. At the very end of the 18th century, the world learned about a Protestant religious sect called the Shakers. The main thing in the organization was the arrangement of life in it. There was equality between the sexes, and hard work was evenly distributed. There was also such a community in Massachusetts, Tabitha Babbitt lived in it. She worked as a weaver, but in 1810 found a way to make her brothers' work easier. The woman watched for a long time as the men sawed logs with a two-handed saw, moving it in one direction, then in the other. Although the load on people was evenly distributed, but the cutting itself took place only when the saw was moving forward. When she moved back, it had no effect on the log. Tabitha quickly realized that people were wasting energy. She came up with a prototype circular saw. Later, it was successfully used in the sawmill industry. Babbitt proposed creating a circular saw. Now every movement of the tool on the wood made sense. But the commandments of the community were quite strict, and they prevented Babbitt from obtaining his legal patent.
Chocolate chip cookies. Who else can invent sweets if not a woman? Meanwhile, many culinary masterpieces were born by chance. Including rather tenacious and one of the most delicious - chocolate cookies. Ruth Wakefield worked as a dietitian and lecturer on food culture. Her life changed when she and her husband bought an old post house in the suburbs of Boston. Traditionally, travelers stayed in such establishments, paid tolls, ate and fed the horses. Together with her husband, Ruth made a hotel and restaurant out of this seedy place. One day in 1930, Ruth baked cookies for her guests. According to the recipe, melted chocolate had to be added to it. But the hostess in a hurry took the usual Nestle chocolate, broke it into small pieces and put it in the dough. Ruth thought the chocolate could melt on its own when baking. But it turned out that the sweetness took on a special shape. This was the birth of the first chocolate chip cookie. Nestlé soon discovered that sales of its chocolate in Massachusetts were skyrocketing. Company representatives found the source of such demand - Mrs. Wakefield. She agreed to tell the confectioners her recipe. As a result, a line for simplified breaking appeared on the Nestlé chocolate bars. And since 1939, chocolate cookies have been produced at the factory. Ruth's recipe was printed on the back of the package. And the woman herself, in gratitude, received a lifetime opportunity to receive chocolate for free.
Liquid paper. Bette Nesmith Graham worked as a typist, but did not show any special talents in this profession. She was unable to study in college due to high dropout rates. As a result, the girl got a job at the secretariat of a bank of Texas. There she rose to the rank of executive secretary to the chairman of the board. Then, in the early 1950s, the electric typewriter had just appeared and began to gradually be put into operation. But secretaries sometimes had to retype entire pages of text if even a small mistake was found in them. After all, carbon tapes didn't allow for fixes. One day, Bette watched as workers applied designs to the windows of her bank before the holiday. She noticed that in case of a mistake, the artists simply applied another layer of paint on top of it, covering the unfortunate place. The woman thought that such a principle would be nice to use in her work. She took a blender and mixed the water-based ink with the dye used for printing. The mixture that turned out, Bett began to apply with a thin watercolor brush to errors in his document. All other secretaries liked this method so much that they began to demand to prepare the mixture for them too. As a result, Graham was soon fired from her job. After all, she spent all the time distributing her homemade product in the kitchen. The new mixture was named "No to Errors". Left without a job, Bette was able to calmly refine her discovery. As a result, she received a patent for liquid paper in 1958. Today computers have taken the place of almost all typewriters, but white liquid - a proofreader - is still in demand.
Compiler and programming language COBOL. There are so many great names in the world of computer technology. Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Bill Gates and Stephen Jobs immediately come to mind. But not everyone knows about Grace Murray Hopper. Meanwhile, she also played an important role in the development of this industry. The woman began working in 1943, while she was working at Harvard on the creation of the IBM Harvard Mark I. It was the first large-scale computer project in America. Among its creators, Grace was the third most important. The woman was able to create a computer manual, which her followers later used. In 1950, Hopper came up with a compiler that was able to translate plain English instructions into machine code. This immediately made it much easier for programmers to write their code and at the same time make much fewer mistakes. Hopper also created her second compiler, Flow-Matic. It was used for UNIVAC I and II programs that ran on the first commercially available computers. It was Hopper who led the development of the common business-oriented language COBOL. This programming language was generally one of the first. For her work, Grace Hopper has received many awards, and a US Navy ship was even named after her.
Colored signal flares. In 1847 Martha Koston became a widow, although she was only 21 at the time. Despite such a young age, the woman was left with four children in her arms. Martha had no idea how and on what to live on. One evening, in despair, she leafed through the notebook of her deceased husband. There she discovered an interesting plan for a flare system. It could be used by ships that communicate with each other in poor visibility, in darkness or fog. Marta filed an application with the relevant authorities with a request to check the operation of such a system. Although she was denied this, she decided to go with this idea to the end. For the next 10 years, the woman was engaged in improving the system and developing the design of the device that her husband came up with. Martha held numerous consultations with scientists and naval officers. She was left wondering how to make the flashes bright and long. At the same time, it was necessary to make the system easy to use. Martha took her children outside one night to watch the fireworks. Then the thought came to her mind that some of the pyrotechnic elements in her torch system would not be superfluous. As a result, the flare system was created and became operational. The rights to use it were bought by the US Navy. During the Civil War, Coston colored flares were frequently used. Only now the torch system did not become the thing that could help a woman feed herself and her children. Military records show that Coston sold 1.2 million missiles to the Navy at cost during the Civil War. The woman was promised 120 thousand dollars for her work, but in reality she was able to receive only 15 thousand. In her autobiography, Koston said that the navy refused to pay her the remaining money as she was a woman.
Paper bag. Margaret Knight is not really the inventor of the paper bag. But after all, the first paper bags were not good for anything - it was impossible to carry things in them. Then these products looked like envelopes; it was also impossible to use them for products. Thus, paper bags did not acquire a modern look at once. And it was Margaret Knight who had her hand in this. The woman calculated that the bags should have a large bottom area. Then the weight can be distributed more evenly. Such a package will be able to accommodate a lot more things. In 1870, a woman created wooden apparatus. These machines cut out paper and then glue the square bag bases. In the course of work on the iron version of her machine and its subsequent patenting, Margaret discovered that her idea had been stolen by a certain Charles Annan. At one time he was able to see a wooden machine furtively. Knight immediately filed a lawsuit against the thief. As an argument, he told the court that the woman simply could not come up with such a complex machine. To prove her point, Margaret was able to provide all of her drawings, notes and sketches. As a result, the court decided that it was she who was the real inventor. In 1871, Knight received a patent for her device. Although this was the first such hard document in her life, it was far from the first at all. Even when the girl was 12 years old, she was able to come up with a device that automatically stops industrial machines in case of malfunctions. This helped to significantly reduce occupational injuries. And in all her life, an inventive woman received more than 20 patents.
Dishwasher. It is easy to imagine that the dishwasher was invented by the man who for years washed and rubbed mountains of dirty dishes and cups over the sink, shedding tears from fatigue. In fact, everything is not so tragic. The patent for the first dishwasher belongs to Josephine Cochrane. She hadn't made her invention at all by washing dishes. An accident encouraged her to open the door - once in the kitchen during the cleaning they broke an elegant Chinese service, which the woman loved very much. Cochrane loved the social life, spending time in fun and socializing. But in 1883 she became a widow and discovered that her husband had left her a large amount of debt. The woman flatly refused to sell her property, focusing on creating a new car. Her invention was supposed to wash dishes well, but not break them. In the car, a strong jet of water was directed at dirty dishes and cups. The woman received a patent for her device in 1886. But the difficulties were just beginning. Josephine later said that it was easier to invent a car than to get people to buy it. At first, individual clients recoiled from the car. After all, many families did not have the opportunity to supply the device with the warm water he needed. Those who had such an opportunity did not understand the point of purchasing a device if a woman could also do its job for free. But this failure did not stop Cochrane. She began to meet with directors of large restaurants and hotels. The woman advertised her invention, saying that it could do the job for ten. Soon, more and more families began to purchase such a convenient device for private use.
Windscreen wipers. Mary Anderson visited New York at the very beginning of the 20th century. Then the city was not at all what it appears to tourists today. There were no endless traffic jams and a huge number of cars signaling to each other then. Cars were rare; they would become the American dream much later. Who would have thought that a woman from Alabama, having arrived in a large metropolis, would invent something that would soon become an integral part of any car. As Anderson rode the tram through the snow-covered city, she noticed that the driver often stops just to clear the snow from the car windshield. And this behavior was the norm at the time. That is why snow or rain turned into a nightmare for everyone who was driving. When the woman returned home, she came up with a special holder on the spindle. It was attached by a handle to the outside of the windshield. If the driver needed to clean his glass, he simply pulled the handle, and then the mechanism itself removed the dirt. Anderson received a patent for her invention in 1903, but only 10 years later, thousands of Americans received windshield wipers for their cars. Today it is hard to imagine a modern car without them.
Nystatin. Many believe that romantic relationships cannot be kept at a distance. But Rachel Brown and Elizabeth Hazen proved that distance is not an obstacle at least to a professional relationship. Both women served in the New York State Department of Health in 1940. Only Hazen was in New York, and Brown was in Albany. Although they were miles apart, they actively collaborated to create their own antifungal drug. Hazen took soil samples in her city to understand which organism could interact with fungi. As soon as a woman found any activity in the soil, she sent the found sample to her colleague. Brown removed the organism from the soil, which was the cause of the reaction. If she found an active ingredient, she would send it back to Hazen. She was already checking him for fungi again. If the organism was found to be capable of killing fungi, it was then tested for toxicity. Almost all the samples found turned out to be too dangerous for humans. As a result, women managed to find an organism that killed the fungus and was safe for people. The discovery was made in 1950. The resulting drug was named nystatitis. Today it is sold under various brand names and is intended to treat fungal infections that threaten the skin, intestines and genitals.
Kevlar. Getting a new job, Stefania Kwolek considered it only temporary. In 1946, she joined DuPont, seeking to save money for further education at a medical college.After 18 years, she was still working in the same place. Here she was closely involved in the transformation of polymers into very strong synthetic fibers. Kwolek had to work with polymers, whose molecules were in the form of a rod and lined up one after the other in one line. Usually the molecules form mixed systems. Kwolek understood that her clear lines would make the new material much stronger. This will not diminish in relevance even if the polymers are difficult to dissolve in water. By the way, it can also be used in further research. Over time, Stephanie was still able to get a solution with stick molecules. At the same time, the resulting liquid was significantly different from all similar previously obtained. Then the scientist decided to run the solution through a special unit that creates tissue fibers. But the operator of the die machine did not allow it to be used, because the mixture at Kwolek was rather unusual, different from the traditional samples. The employee was simply afraid that the strange liquid might break his car. But the uncompromising Stephanie got her way. At the end of the process, she held a fiber as dense as steel in her hands. This material came to be called Kevlavr. Today, it is widely used in the production of tires, brake pads, cables, helmets, skis and so on. Kevlavr is especially famous for its use in body armor. Stefania Kwolek's life turned out in such a way that they did not go to medical school. But the woman still fulfilled her mission - her invention saved many human lives.