Women have been inventing remarkable things for centuries, from car parts to cataract removers. Some never received any credit during their lifetime, while others died in the name of research. But their inventions live on and continue to impact our lives today. Thanks to these brilliant female inventors that change the world, we are healthier and safer now than ever before.

1. Mary Anderson: Windshield Wipers

Torrential downpours make driving conditions dangerous, as water obstructs windshield visibility. Mary Anderson was innovative while visiting New York City during harsh weather- she noticed that drivers had to stick their heads out the window to see. In 1903, she was granted a patent for her rubber blade, which drivers could use by pushing a lever from inside of the car. By 1916, windshield wipers had become standard equipment for cars in America. In 1917, Charlotte Bridgwood took the invention one step further and patented automatic wipers.

2. Mary Walton: Pollution-Reducing Device

Even hundreds of years ago, women such as Mary Walton were aware of the connection between pollutants and our health. In the late 1800s, Walton created a system to reduce emissions from smokestacks and trains, for which she was given two patents. Walton’s invention led pollution away from the atmosphere and into water tanks, where it was then eliminated by the sewer system. She was also known for creating a method that quieted noise vibrations coming from railroad tracks.

3. Ada Lovelace: Programming

Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Annabella Milbanke and poet Lord Byron) was rare for a woman living in the 1800s because her mother encouraged her to study mathematics. Lovelace is now commonly known as the “first computer programmer,” given credit for developing the first early computer programs. In an article discussing the analytic engine—or what would presently be called a general-purpose computer—designed by Charles Babbage, she wrote them. Her work on this project was the foundation for contemporary computers. However, over many years, historians have debated whether Babbage was the true author. Ada Lovelace’s significant contributions represent the pioneering spirit of women who invented things and played a vital role in shaping female inventions that change the world.

4. Katharine Burr Blodgett: Non-reflective Glass

Katharine Blodgett was not only the first woman hired at GE, she also invented invisible glass- which has a variety of uses such as in products like cameras and microscopes. Research chemist Irving Langmuir and Blodgett collaborated on numerous projects together, during which she found a way to measure an oily substance he had invented. The method of measuring transparent objects that Blodgett pioneered led her to invent non-reflective glass in 1938. But she didn’t stop there—she also invented smoke screens, which saved countless troops during World War II by protecting them from toxic plumes.

5. Stephanie Kwolek: Kevlar

Stephanie Kwolek was tinkering in the lab when she made a 5X stronger than steel solution, known as Kevlar. It’s not only strong, but it’s also corrosion-resistant and lightweight. This discovery has led to many life-saving products like bulletproof vests and helmets, as well as suspension bridges.

6. Patricia Bath: Laser Cataract Remover

Dr. Patricia Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in the 1980s, making her the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent. The probe uses a laser to painlessly remove cataracts, as opposed to an earlier removal method with a drill-like device. Not only did she invent the cataract remover, but she co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. This institute believes that “eyesight is a basic human right.”

7. Anna Connelly: Fire Escape

It’s hard to imagine a time before fire safety. In 1887, Anna Connelly decided to create something that would prevent the deaths of many people in multistory buildings by creating fireproof clothing. The exterior fire escape, patented by her, was essentially a bridge that people could use to escape from one building to the next during a fire. It was encircled by a railing with openings at either end.

8. Rosalyn Yalow: Radioimmunoassay

In 1959, Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson had a joint invention of the radioimmunoassay (RIA) in order to help with analyzing smaller quantities of biologically active substances like blood or tissue. This method not only detects viruses, drugs, and other proteins but also measures them. One of its most vital uses is testing for deadly viruses like hepatitis in blood banks so that they can be eliminated before transfusion. Not only could this method determine effective dosage levels of drugs and antibiotics, but Yalow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1977. Rosalyn Yalow’s groundbreaking work established her among the greatest female inventors and remains a hallmark of famous female inventors in medical science.

9. Flossie Wong-Staal: HIV/AIDS Testing Method

Flossie Wong-Staal helped discover the virus that causes AIDS and was the first to map HIV’s genes by cloning the virus. Along with a team of co-inventors, she holds a patent for an AIDS testing method and continues to work on treatments for those with the disease.

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10. Marie Curie: Radium

Of course, any female inventor story would mention Marie Curie. She and her husband Pierre discovered radium and polonium. The discovery was key to the development of the X-ray. Tragically, at that time the effects of radiation exposure were not known. As a result, she died from being exposed to radioactivity too much while working.

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