Inspiring Women

The Story of 5 Women and Their Incredible Inventions

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We all know names like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, but what about all the women inventors whose creations we use every day? Women invented windshield wipers, the first computer program, life rafts, the paper bag, Kevlar, fire escapes and, mind you, chocolate chip cookies. If good ideas had only come from people who looked like the founding fathers, then a wealth of advances and joys might have been delayed or missed entirely.

The following women, whose inventions changed the world, rarely got credit. The sad truth is that we live in a world where men are respected for their accomplishments and women are routinely taken advantage of. In fact, in most cases men they knew stole their credit and fame. That’s why it’s all the more important that we share this article and give these amazing, yet underappreciated, women the credit they’re due.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world”, was a lonely movie star who fled Austria to the US during the war. She was so lonely, in fact, that she spent her evenings alone, surrounded by engineering books, inventing everything from a better tissue box to a new traffic signal.

The Story of 5 Women and Their Incredible Inventions

But it was her system of frequency hopping that she invented during World War II to assist the US Navy, that is still used today in wireless communications technology like Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi.

The Story of 5 Women and Their Incredible Inventions

Her frequency hopping system helped win America the war, but when she first approached the US Government with her ideas, she was scoffed at and told to stop her ‘silly inventing’ and instead use her beauty to raise money for the war. She signed over her patent to the government for no money at all. Right after she did so, others took her ideas and ran with them, taking full credit.

It took 50 years for her to finally get the credit she deserved, and yet all her obituaries talked about was her beauty, with only a passing mention of her invention.

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A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

21 Comments

  1. Pasty Clin

    Mind blowing article! Who knows that worlds most beautiful lady is so lonely and She doesn’t waste her time to feel her loneliness at hard time of world war 2.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. WOW. This is such an amazing article — each of these women’s stories are sooo interesting!

  3. Anne Dawson

    I’m so super inspired by this list! If these women can do something incredible — then there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to 🙂

    • Juliette Advitt

      I was just thinking the same thing 🙂

  4. Diana Hewitt

    It’s so annoying that society focuses so much on women’s looks. I love that you call attention to this in so many of your articles. Really makes me feel better that, at least, Urbanette is bringing this issue to light.

  5. Amelia Beckons

    There aren’t enough articles out there that showcase women’s achievements. One of the many reasons I read every single article that’s published on Urbanette. xxxx

  6. Sarah Uibel

    What an inspiring and saddening article. Amazing how many men stole ideas from women. Hopefully it’s an important warning to any women out there with strong ideas (keep them to yourself!). Please writer more about this, so important…

  7. Heather Strobel

    Good piece to read! makes you realize that there are a few special people out there who just make it happen.

  8. Louise Stone

    Great collection of incredible women inventors. I didn’t know about women’s contribution in inventions and innovation before reading this article. This article is so insightful and inspiring. Thanks for posting! 🙂

  9. Karen Osborn

    This is the one of the best thing I have read in a long time. Nice to see women of color included in this list. It’s very inspiring to see how women have contributed to invention and technology in intelligent ways. Beautiful post and so true. Thank you for sharing this.

  10. Kathie Mickey

    This is true Gold! Amen to all of that Hilary. We need more history like this in the classroom.

  11. Kimberly Vigil

    Awesome….I knew some of these but cool to get history right! 😀

  12. Michelle Luedtke

    Great article! I wonder if I’d be able to read a book about different women who are forerunners in sciences. Would love to learn more about them!

  13. Gabby Williams

    It’s time for a change! Men have been taking credit at the expense of women 🙁

    Impressive and well-researched article, Hilary! These amazing women deserve acknowledgment!

  14. Candice Elliott

    There are many women who are very inventive, but their names are rarely known, toiling away in obscurity. Why? Largely because women are taught that it isn’t “lady-like” to self-promote… and in fact, are often “punished” socially for having done so, if they do… but men like Thomas Edison were rewarded for self-promotion…

  15. Fantastic article!

    It’s motivating to discover and know more about these brilliant female inventions which date back… years ago. It’s just disheartening to know that some women did not receive recognition during their lifetime for their work (and others even died in the name of research). But it’s inspiring that the impact of their inventions lives on…

  16. Very empowering piece! Women’s role in Science and Technology is often underestimated and ignored. Your article proves that Technology is not just a “man thing.” These women’s achievements made me proud!

  17. Lindy Gardner

    Interesting and inspiring article! Thank you for sharing and introducing them to your readers. I must admit, I’m not familiar with most of the names.

    • Francis Woods

      I know right!!! These women inventors are hard to find in books. And yeah, I barely know them (my bad!!!). More articles discussing “Feminine Ingenuity” should be written! Thanks for writing about them!

  18. Impressive women inventors! I must admit, I felt sad about Elizabeth Magie — dying alone, relatively poor and not receiving enough recognition for her work…

  19. Incredible article! Thanks for writing about them. You’re right, women don’t receive “enough” credits (or will take years for them to be acknowledged) for their ingenuity. I’m particularly impressed with Hedy Lamarr.

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