Throughout history, women have been responsible for some of humanity’s most triumphant inventions and achievements, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, who were unafraid to ask questions and disregard the status quo. This International Women’s Day, discover the stories behind 4 surprising products you didn’t know were invented by women.
1. Grace Hopper: Computer software
A rear admiral in the US navy, Grace Hopper was considered one of the first three ‘modern programmers’, and invented the computer language COBOL (common business-oriented language) in 1959. By the 70s, COBOL was the most extensively used computer language in the world. “Amazing Grace” worked with computers until she retired from the US navy at age 79, as its oldest serving officer.
2. Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home CCTV
A nurse often home alone in crime-ridden 60s New York, Marie Van Brittan Brown invented a device to boost household security. Her invention consisted of a motorised camera that moved between peepholes, with the resulting images displayed on a monitor in her bedroom for review. This ingenious solution formed the foundations for modern CCTV used in surveillance and crime prevention across the world.
3. Stephanie Kwolek: Kevlar
In 1965, whilst working with a team at DuPont looking to develop a tough yet lightweight fibre for use in tyres, Stephanie Kwolek created a material that was five times stronger than steel. It was, in fact, bulletproof. Kwolek patented the fibre under the name ‘Kevlar’, which is now used globally in body armour, cables, racing cars… and tyres!
4. Letitia Mumford Geer: Medical syringe
In 1896, inventor Letitia Mumford Geer filed the patent for a one-handed, glass syringe – the inspiration behind the syringes we use in modern medicine today. Geer’s invention revolutionised treatment, allowing for the quick and accurate delivery of medication with one hand.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and you can’t change the world without breaking a few rules. Challenging what’s ‘always been’ and going against the grain, without being afraid to ask the ‘silly’ questions, have formed the basis for impressive inventions across STEM and other industries.
Focus7 is a colourful company, personified by our ‘We don’t do dull’ mantra. We aren’t afraid to encourage creativity, kindness and authenticity, irrespective of gender. Together, we want to Press For Progress towards a mindset of complete gender parity, so that all companies can be positive places to work. Equality can only be achieved through taking inspiration from these amazing women: by asking questions, pushing boundaries and challenging perceptions.