March is Women’s History month. It’s an unfortunate fact that women are too often overlooked throughout history and in our history books. But in reality, women are and have always been exceedingly influential and impact on our lives, our homes, and our world. As March is coming to a close, we want to take some time to look at a few female inventors whose inventions improve our lives and homes every day.
Patricia Billings was a sculptor in the 1970s. She was trying to create a material that would prevent her sculptures from shattering. Eventually, she came up with what is now known as Geobond. It’s an indestructible plaster that is also fire-proof and non-toxic. It sounds too good to be true. It became the world’s first workable replacement for the highly toxic material asbestos, which was previously used widely in construction. She has held onto her patents, and her inventions have revolutionized the construction industry. She’s repeatedly turned down millions of dollars from companies who want to bury her technology.
Did you know that cars initially had no way of dealing with rain or snow on the windshield? Well thanks to Mary Anderson – American real estate developer, rancher, viticulturist and inventor of the windshield wiper blade – we can drive with a clear view of the road ahead. Talk about a real game changer!
Hair brushes used to be made out of animal hair (like boar’s hair). Your hair would get caught in it, and it would quickly start looking really gross. You can’t wash it out very easily, since your pulled out hairs would get caught with the animal hair, and the brush itself just wasn’t very conveniently cleaned. Lyda Newman invented the first hair brush with synthetic bristles. Lyda Newman’s invention was significantly more durable than its predecessor, and it was much more effective and easy to use. Not only that, it was very easy to clean. Lyda Newman was truly a revolutionary.
Tired of repeatedly changing and washing her children’s soiled cloth diapers, bedsheets, and clothing, Marion Donovan, a mother of two, set out to find a better solution. There were already some rubber baby pants on the market, but they caused rashes on babies’ skin, and it pinched them when they moved. Donovan invented the first waterproof, safe (no metal safety pins), and comfortable (no pinching). She faced a lot of negativity and discouragement, but was never deterred. She proved all the naysayers wrong in 1949, when her invention debuted at Saks Fifth Avenue. Her next invention was the fully disposable diaper. What was amazing about this new diaper was that it’s made of a paper that it wasn’t just strong and absorbent, but it also conveyed the wetness away from the baby’s skin. This invention is the foundation for the Pampers we see on the shelves today.
Do you like chocolate chip cookies? They were invented by Ruth Wakefield. Cookies make a home smell like home. Wakefield became one of the most famous female inventors in the 20th century. She was making a batch of cookies one day in 1930 when she realized she had unexpectedly run out of baker’s chocolate. She broke up Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate into small bits and put them in the mix, assuming they would melt into the batter. They didn’t, but the mistake turned out to be genius. As the recipe was popularized, Nestle struck a deal with her. She would let them print the recipe on their packages, and they would give her a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate.