International Women in Engineering Day is back for its 8th year in a row and we’re celebrating by bringing you these 7 inventions that were solely created by women!
Established by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), International Women in Engineering Day raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to them in this thriving industry.
The theme for this year is ‘Engineering Heroes’ so what better way to celebrate than to introduce you to these 7 inspirational women and their groundbreaking inventions. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to clean our dishes, iron awkward clothes, enjoy delicious coffee or make ice cream ourselves! Prepare to be amazed…
Inventor: Josephine Cochrane
“If nobody else is going to invent a dish washing machine, I’ll do it myself.”
Those were the wise words of Josephine Cochrane back in 1886! Josephine was a socialite and was expected to host many dinner parties but hated washing dishes. So, she invented something to do the job for her instead! Later that year, Josephine received a patent for the world’s first practical dishwasher. While several other inventors offered earlier dish-washing designs, Cochrane’s dishwasher was the first to clean with water pressure instead of scrubbers to remove debris. So, now we know whom to thank for saving us from the washing up!
Credit: It’s Not Easy Being Clean
The Electric Refrigerator
Inventor: Florence Parpart
Can you imagine only having an ice box to keep your food cool? Well, that’s what life was like before Florence Parpart invented the electric refrigerator! In 1914, Florence had the bright idea that using electricity would be a much more efficient way to refrigerate food. The patented refrigerator attachment she created improved cooling efficiency through an electric system that circulated water throughout the appliance to keep the fridge cold.
As a gifted entrepreneur, the electric refrigerator wasn’t Florence’s first rodeo! In 1901 she was awarded a patent for a ‘Street Sweeping Machine’ too.
The Ironing Board
Inventor: Sarah Boone
Sarah Boone was a dressmaker living in Connecticut. Facing tough competition in her industry, Sarah had to find a way to make her dresses stand out from the crowd. Her solution, a perfectly shaped ironing board! Prior to this invention, dressmakers would iron clothes on a wooden plank placed across two chairs. Although this method was fine for wider items, it was ill-suited to ironing sleeves, contours and fitted material.
Sarah’s solution was to create a narrower, curved board that could slip into sleeves and allow garments to be shifted without getting wrinkled. Her creation also included padding to eliminate the impressions produced by a wooden board and was collapsible for easy storage. Genius!
Inventor: Melitta Bentz
“My mother, who had an excellent taste in coffee, was often irritated by the coffee grounds in her cup.”
You may have heard of the name Melitta but did you know she was the one to thank for your perfectly filtered brew? The quote was from Melitta’s son, Horst Bentz, talking about his mother’s invention in an interview decades later and he was certainly correct!
In a quest to find the perfect cup of coffee (a girl after our own hearts), the German inventor tried multiple ways to filter grounds from her coffee. On a miraculous day in 1887, Melitta ripped a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook and stuck it into an old tin pot in which she had punched some holes. She had cracked it! She called this the “perfect coffee enjoyment” and we couldn’t agree more!
Inventor: Alice Parker
When you cosy up in your lovely warm home this winter, you have Alice Parker to thank for it! Living in New Jersey and struggling with the cold winters, Alice thought that her fireplace just wasn’t heating her home as much as it could. In 1919, she invented a heating system using natural gas which paved the way for the central heating systems we all have in our homes today.
Her invention was a lot more convenient as people no longer needed to go outside to buy or chop wood and the risk of house fires was also decreased.
Home Security System
Inventor: Marie Van Brittan Brown
Living in Queens, New York in the 1960s, Marie worked as a nurse but was often home alone due to her husband’s working patterns. Crime rates were on the rise in their neighbourhood but the police could not always be relied upon to respond quickly. Her solution? Create a system that could make herself and her neighbours feel safe!
The intelligent system used a television monitor which meant she could see anyone that was stood outside her door. It even included a two-way microphone and an alarm system that would immediately contact the police! On 2 December 1969, Marie was awarded a patent for her design.
Ice Cream Maker
Inventor: Nancy Johnson
Nancy Johnson had her priorities right! Before freezers were even invented, she created a double-cylinder hand-crank ice cream machine. Amazing! The machine had the ability to produce two separate ice cream flavours that could be frozen at the same time but separately. It was patented in 1843 and became a standard mechanism for many years.
To find out more about International Women in Engineering Day and the amazing opportunities available for young women looking to excel in this industry, visit the website here.