Margaret Knight: The Flat-Bottomed Bag Lady

As a teenager in the 1850s, Margaret Ellen Knight invented a safety device for 19th century power looms. As a young woman, she invented a major consumer product that is part of our daily lives today.

Were it not for this Wednesday’s Woman, baggers at supermarkets all over America would not be able to ask that all-important question: “Paper or plastic?” Margaret Ellen Knight is the inventor of the flat-bottomed paper bag that is a staple of American shopping life.

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Cecelia Payne, The Greatest Female Astronomer In History

Cecelia Payne, the greatest female astronomer in history
British immigrant Cecelia Payne blazed a trail across the skies of academic astronomy to ultimately become the greatest female astronomer of all time.

Although robbed of the credit for her greatest astronomical accomplishment and subjected to nonstop gender discrimination during the rest of her academic career, Cecelia Payne was finally recognized as “the greatest female astronomer in history.” This Wednesday’s Woman’s story is one of brilliance, tenacity and extraordinary scientific achievement in the face of persistent obstructions.

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Mary Anderson: The Woman Who Invented the Windshield Wiper

Female inventor Mary Anderson who created and patented the windshield wiper.
Real estate entrepreneur and cattle ranch operator Mary Anderson came up with and patented the idea of windshield wipers in 1903, years before Henry Ford’s Model T Ford hit the market.

If you’re reading this from anywhere along the east coast and dealing with the after-effects of our New Year’s “bomb cyclone,” you know how annoying that highway spray of grime, salt and slush kicked up on your car’s windshield can be. Meet today’s Wednesday’s Woman, Mary Anderson (1866-1953), the female inventor who created the common, everyday, indispensable windshield wiper.

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Hedy Lamarr, Serious Inventor Trapped in a Hollywood Image

Hedy Lamarr, actress and one of America's most famed female inventors
In parallel with her Hollywood fame, Hedy Lamarr was a constant tinkerer and successful inventor who contributed significant innovative engineering ideas adopted by the U.S. military and consumer industries. In 1997 Lamarr’s engineering work was honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award and in 2014 she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Whoever coined the phrase “more than just a pretty face” could have been describing this Wednesday’s Woman. Hedy Lamarr, the exquisite Hollywood beauty of the 1930s and ’40s, was born into an Austrian Jewish family as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914. She would ultimately go on to become the Hollywood star we all know, as well as a highly successful engineering innovator who most of us were never aware of.

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Grace Hopper: The Navy Math Whiz Who Helped Design the First Computer

Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy Engineer and female scientist and inventor.
Grace Hopper was an early pioneer of computer technology and helped develop the COBOL programming system.

This Wednesday’s Woman is “Amazing Grace.” Grace Hopper was determined to join the U.S. Navy in the midst of World War II. But the 37-year-old associate professor  just barely squeaked in under the Navy’s cutoff age By 1943 Hopper had earned a Ph.D. in math from Yale and was teaching at Vassar. Continue reading “Grace Hopper: The Navy Math Whiz Who Helped Design the First Computer”

Lillian Moller Gilbreth: Psychologist, Engineer, Famous Inventor and Mother of 12

Lillian Gillbreth, GE engineer and famous female inventor
Lillian Moller Gilbreth was the first woman elected into the National Academy of Engineering.

Next time you reach into the fridge or use your electric can opener, thank today’s Wednesday Woman: Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972). An industrial psychologist, engineer and mother of 12, she was dubbed the original superwoman and described as a genius in the art of living. Continue reading “Lillian Moller Gilbreth: Psychologist, Engineer, Famous Inventor and Mother of 12”