20 Useful Inventions by Women That Shape Our Daily Lives

The innovative work of female inventors has long been overlooked. Although their work may be lesser known, the significance of their genius has shaped the way we live today.

Check out these everyday inventions created by women that have changed the world.

The Fire Escape

fire escape
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Invented by Anna Connely in 1887, her patent for the fire escape transformed building safety and firefighting accessibility, leading to the first building codes in New York City. Her design mandated the inclusion of a cost-effective secondary escape route that enabled faster evacuation and enhanced safety by providing platforms between levels to prevent people from falling. 

Beer

Brewing beer at home
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Would you believe it! Women in Sumeria and Mesopotamia invented Beer almost seven thousand years ago. While no specific woman is accredited with this wonderful creation, women were the exclusive brewers and operators of breweries and taverns for centuries. Many ancient societies considered beer a gift from the goddesses, and women are reported to have played a significant role in shaping the beer we drink throughout history.

Wireless Transmission Technology

Man listening music wearing wireless headphones
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Hedy Lamarr was the genius behind the invention of the frequency-hopping communications system used in 1941 during WWII, which laid the foundations for the development of the modern-day technological essentials that we use today like GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Her groundbreaking contributions earned her the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award in 1997, and in 2014, she was finally inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Science Fiction

A crowd of happy spectators are in the movie
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You can thank Mary Shelley, the legendary author of Frankenstein (The Modern Prometheus), for the birth of science fiction in 1818. Shelley’s inimitable imagination single-handedly created a new genre that has remained popular for over 200 years.

Waterproof Weather Protector

Modern materials in the fashion industry. Windbreaker from the rain. A man is posing in a fashionable silvery waterproof jacket made of new technological materials.
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Next time you’re saved from the rain by your waterproof jacket, don’t forget to thank Patsy O’Connell Sherman and Sam Smith, who developed Scotchgard, an insoluble polymer that is both stain and waterproof.

Coffee Filter

Pour over filter coffee alternative brewing method. Pouring hot water over roasted and ground coffee beans contained in paper filter
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The German entrepreneur Melitta Bentz developed the incredibly simple yet genius coffee filter using blotting paper in 1908, saving millions from the gritty residue of their ground coffee beans.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

chocolate chip cookies
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This delicious invention certainly should be an everyday essential as far as we are concerned! Ruth Wakefield, the mind behind this iconic dessert, stumbled upon its creation by sheer accident. While baking a batch of cookies, she used broken pieces of Nestle chocolate instead of the typical baking chocolate. To her surprise, the chocolate did not fully melt, forming delectable pockets of gooey goodness within the cookie dough. This serendipitous mistake gave birth to the classic we know and love today.

Birth Control Pill

birth control pills
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Millionaire philanthropist and groundbreaking biologist Katherine McCormick is the woman behind the revolutionary birth control pill. Her extensive research and funding of the project led to the pill’s development, which initiated a sociomedical transformation and liberation for millions of women worldwide.

The Bra

Woman choosing from a selection of bras
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It’s not much of a surprise that a woman invented the bra but this genius invention has since become an everyday essential for millions of women. Caresse Crosby invented the modern bra in 1910 to address the horrible discomfort of traditional corsets. Crosby received her patent in 1914, revolutionizing women’s comfort and creating an indispensable item for women around the world.

Central Heating

hands on a central heating system
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Although her original design was never used, in 1919, Alice Parker created the first-ever central heating design to use natural gas rather than wood. Parker developed a groundbreaking type of gas furnace that used ducts to direct warm air all around the house, with multiple burners that allowed for varying temperatures.

Computer Software

Digital technology, software development concept. Coding programmer, software engineer working on laptop with circuit board and javascript on virtual screen, internet of things IoT
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A pioneering figure in computer programming in the 1950s, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper revolutionized programming thanks to her invention of the compiler and significant contributions to the Mark 1 computer while with the US Navy. At the age of 79, she even earned the name Amazing Grace as the oldest serving naval officer.

Caller ID and Call Waiting

Man trying say no during phone call
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In the 1970s, Dr. Jackson pioneered the development of Caller ID and Call Waiting, transforming the way we communicate. An American theoretical physicist and the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she revolutionized and helped lay the groundwork for later inventions of portable faxes, solar cells, and fiber optic cables.

Q-tips

Q-tips
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Although her husband Leo Gerstenzang is credited with this creation, it was actually his wife Ziuta who gave him the idea and created the first proto-type, which he obtained after observing her wrap toothpicks with cotton to clear their baby’s ears.

The Windscreen Wiper

Mechanic replace windshield wipers on car. Replacing wiper blades Change cars wiper blades. Technician Man changing windshield wipers blades on car.
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The humble windscreen wiper was created by Mary Anderson in 1903 as a solution for drivers to clear snow, rain, and debris from their windshields without having to open the window, to save heat and improve the comfort and safety of the passengers. Anderson was awarded the patent for her design but sadly never profited from her invention as car companies initially believed it would distract drivers from the road and were only made a standard on cars later on. 

Home Security System

fizkes

Marie Van Brittan Brown developed the home security system back in the 1960s. As a nurse who was often home alone, she developed the revolutionary system, along with her husband, Albert, in response to rising crime rates and poor police responses.

Kevlar (Bullet-Proof Fiber)

Man showing his flack jacket
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Stephanie Kwolek, the groundbreaking chemist, discovered this life-saving, heat-resistant material in 1965. Kevlar is a lightweight fiber that is five times stronger than steel. Now used in bulletproof vests and body armor, it has saved countless lives and can be found in numerous everyday items, from household gloves and mobile phones to airplanes and suspension bridges.

Pizza Saver

Surprised young woman receiving paper boxes with hot pizza from unrecognizable courier male on doorway at home. Rear view of delivery man delivering boxes with food to female client at apartment.
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New Yorker Carmela Vitale invented the small plastic creation that prevents the top of food containers – like cake and pizza boxes – from collapsing and sticking to the food inside. This useful invention was patented in 1985.

Dishwasher

woman putting dishes in a dishwasher
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A revolutionary time-saving device, Josephine Cochrane patented her design and even opened her own production factory in 1886 with the first automatic dishwasher.

Thermoelectric Power Generator

solar heating system on roof
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Maria Telkes invented the first solar-heated system for houses in Dover, Massachusetts, in 1947 while working as a researcher at MIT.

The Medical Syringe

Portrait of beautiful mature woman doctor holding digital tablet and looking at camera. Confident female doctor using digital tablet with colleague talking in background at hospital. Latin nurse.
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Letitia Geer invented this vital piece of medical equipment in 1899. The single-handed needle allowed practitioners to administer injections with just one hand and is now a medical staple worldwide. 

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