Here is the list of some female innovators and notable inventions by women in the past hundred years.
VIRGINIA APGAR (1909-1974)
Virginia Apgar was an American obstetrical anesthesiologist, most famously known for her invention of the Apgar Score in the year 1953. The Apgar score (test) was used to acertain the health of newly born babies immediately after the birth.
In 1949, Apgar was the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (CUCPS). She remained an important figure there until 1959. During that time, she did clinical and research work at the affiliated Sloane Hospital for Women.
The innovation of the Apgar Score proved to be highly effective in saving lives of newly born babies. After the success of this system of evaluating a newborn’s health, Virginia Apgar dedicated her life to helping children. She excelled in various research and clinical fields. She served as vice president of medical affairs at Sloane and was instrumental in starting research programs to treat birth defects. Apgar is an inspiration to all women in the field of medicine. The Apgar Score will likely remain her most important work since it was the only test to predict symptoms of premature birth at that time. Virginia Apgar received several honors and awards on behalf of her contributions to medicine.
The most amazing part of this story is that the Apgar Score is still widely used today.
GERTRUDE BELLE ELLION (1918-1999)
Gertrude B.Ellion was American Biochemist and pharmacologist. She was the first person to provide a chance of survival for those combating HIV (Aids). She introduced the drug azidothymide in 1983 which was used as a first treatment of the HIV virus. This particular drug prevented replication of the virus and reduced risk of its transmission from mother to the fetus during birth.
She also developed the first immunosuppressive drug azathioprine which later played a vital role in the research and development in treating those infected by HIV. The life of Gertrude B.Ellion was full of strugles but she continued contributing to this great cause and is considered one of Americas top women innovators in the field of medicine.
While not a woman inventor in the truest sense, her technical innovations in the fields of medicine, chemistry, science and biology are important to note. Gertrude deserves a part among all the amazing women on our list.
She the won the noble prize for Physiology of Medicine in 1988.
STEPHANIE LOUISE KWOLEK (1923-2014)
Stephanie Kwolek was an American chemist who started her career at DuPont Company. She is the inventor of the super strong, space age material known as Kevlar fiber. Introduced in 1965, Kevlar is used to produce racing tires, bulletproof vests, fuel cells and many other products. New uses for Kevlar are being discovered every day.
Kevlar’s strength is estimated at five times or more than that of steel. Kevlar has widespread applications ranging from automobiles to spacecraft. Of all the women inventors on this list, Stephanie’s invention of Kevlar keeps improving as time goes on. Because of its high strength and flexibility, Kevlar is used as a bladder in fuel cells for race cars, military vehicles and spacecraft. These colapsable cells reduce the chance of fire and explosions caused by air pockets that normally get trapped in rigid aluminum or fiber glass tanks. The invention of Kevlar has saved countless lives on race tracks and war zones around the world.
Stephanie Kwolek was awarded the ‘Lavoisier Medal’ for outstanding technical achievements. She also received the Chemical Pioneer Award and Award for Creative Invention. Her name was added to the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame.
Advances in the uses for Kevlar and its manufacturing processes continue to this day.
MANDY HABERMAN (1956-Todate)
Mandy Haberman is an English Inventor and entrepreneur. She is best known for the invention of the Haberman feeder and Anywayup Cup. She was inspired to create these drinking cups after her child was born in 1980 with Stickler syndrome.
The Haberman feeder is designed specifically for babies having difficulties in sucking. The special shape of this feeder helps infants drink and swallow more easily. Her drinking cups are frequently used in hospitals as well. Her second invention, the Anywayup Cup has been widely sold to commercial markets around the world, reaching sales of more than ten million units in a year.
Her original design of the Anywayup Cup has earned her great fame and financial security but it didn’t come easy. Many copies appeared on the market and she spent years fighting and winning many patent infringement cases. Mandy Haberman has received awards for innovation and ‘Female Inventor of the year’ in 2000. She holds an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University
Women like Mandy inspire inventors every day. Look at her website and read up on her history. She started out just like the rest of us long before she became a successful inventor.
Mandy has dedicated much of her time to inspiring other inventors and offers help via her website mandyhaberman.com
Carmela Vitale (died 2005 at the same time her patent expired)
Carmela Vitale of Dix Hills, New York is the inventor of the pizza saver. Many inventions that we use use every day are taken for granted but this little plastic thingy can be found in pizza shops around the world. Originally patented as the “package saver” in 1985, this simple creation was also referred to as the pizza table and pizza nipple.
The patent expired in 2005 and it is not known if Carmela ever made money from this idea. There have since been many copies created and the insignificant cost meant that she would have to sell tens of millions of them to see any real financial reward.
The purpose of Pizza Saver was to prevent the box from touching the top of the food inside. Carmela Vitale is now an inventing legend. Many people have spent time and resources trying to track down any information they can regarding her life.
In a strange twist of fate, Carmela Vitale died at the age of 68 within weeks of her patent’s expiration.
JOY MANGANO (1956-Todate):
Joy Mangano is the most famous inventor on our list. She is known for her self-wringing Miracle Mop that was first introduced on the Home Shopping Network. She also holds more than 100 patents for her many inventions.
The idea of the self-wringing plastic mop came to her after experiencing the frustrations with using an ordinary mop. The Miracle Mop has a slidable and removable plastic head that holds one continuous loop of 300 feet of cotton mop rope. The sliding action of the head makes wringing the mop cleanly into a bucket almost effortless. The cotton portion is detachable and can easily be cleaned in a washing machine.
Her unique and innovative invention established her as a successful entrepreneur and has made her a multi-millionaire.
The film Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence was released in 2015 and is based on her life.
Dr. SHIRLEY JACKSON (1946-Todate):
Shirley Ann Jackson is an American scientist that received her Ph.D. degree in nuclear physics from MIT university in 1973. She conducted her post-doctoral research with an exempelary dedication to her work. In 1974 she started as a visiting scientist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. While there she paved the way for the advancements in material and nuclear sciences. Although Shirley Ann Jackson didn’t actually invent any products, the high tech materials used in many electronic devices would not be possible without her research and commitment to discovering new things.
The List of Women Inventors Could Go On Forever!
There are many Inventions By Women that have influenced the world and these were just a few of the ones I found most interesting. One thing these women all seem to have in common is the drive and ambition that I keep mentioning here on Invention Therapy. You have to be able to stand on your own, take charge and get things done often times without help from others. Remember, like I always say: “your idea is worthless, it’s the implementation of it that has value”.
These women had what it takes to turn an idea into real, tangible techniques, materials and products. Some succeeded financially while others simply gained infamy by changing our every day lives forever. The reward and path you choose is up to you.
Getting your idea out of your head and into your hands is only the first in a long set of steps towards becoming a successful inventor.
Start Thinking Like An Inventor
Unfortunately, you have been told much bad information about what it takes to be an inventor that you still think that all you have to do is come up with a good idea and people will just throw money at you. For those that have already tried to sell or license their ideas, I ask you one question: How has that worked out for you so far?
It takes a lot of patience, time, money and even a little luck to make a living as an inventor. I hope that in some some way I am starting to drive this point home to you.