Happy Women’s History Month! Let’s celebrate women past and present by recognizing, this month and all year long, the ways women have contributed to society, big and small. As I’ve been reading about historical women, researching topics for women’s history month, and learning more and more, I’ve been fascinated by the number of inventions that we use in our daily life that were invented by women. Countless movies about been made about male inventors–we talk about Thomas Edison like he invented humanity itself–but let’s talk about some of the great inventions by women too! 

Alphabet Blocks

Yes, that’s right. Those little alphabet blocks we all played with as children, the same alphabet blocks that are critical in early literacy programming, we invented by a woman. Adeline D.T. Whitney had already authored numerous books by 1882, when she patented the earliest versions of the alphabet blocks. Now, they’re everywhere and in most homes with young children. 

Computer Algorithms

Even if you aren’t a tech guru, you know computer algorithms. They’re how computers solve problems, and they were invented by Ada Lovelace, though computers were a bit…different back then. In an 1843 manuscript, she created equations and formulas for calculating Bernoulli numbers on a pre-existing automated calculating machine. She went on to collaborate on numerous mathematical problems, and now our computers do crazy things she probably never could have imagined. 

Coffee Filters

Who knows what our lives would be like without coffee filters? Thanks to Melitta Bentz, we don’t have to find out. She was a German housewife who, in the early 20th century, invented coffee filters out of necessity. She was tired of the taste from using linen and boiled grounds. In fact, she actually used blotting paper from her son’s school supplies. Talk about innovation–plus, she went on to build an entire corporation–the Melitta Corporation–around it. 

Caller ID

Though we don’t use it quite as much as we used to, it seems, caller ID truly changed our lives. Can you imagine just picking up the phone–not knowing what awaited you on the end of the line? Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson invented Caller ID, and call waiting. Plus, she’s still alive an is the president of RPI! She has sooo many degrees (including 53 honorary doctorates!) is revered in her field. How do we not learn about this woman in school? 

Kevlar

Kevlar, also known as bulletproof fiber, was also invented by a woman! Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar while working at DuPont labs in the 1960s. The fiber wasn’t even originally intended to be worn for safety–it was meant for tires. Talk about a new use. The fiber went on to be used in numerous other items and is known to be “stronger than steel.” 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member