The sages said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Here’s a twist to that adage —– The mother found a necessity and took to invention. So, a mother is the mother of invention. Here are a few everyday things that have been invented by women.
(1) Disposable Diapers : Babies leak till they are potty-trained. changing cotton nappies can drive a mother insane. Marion Donovan snipped a shower curtain to make the water-proof diaper cover. It was in 1951 that Donovan sold the first Boater diaper at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, and later the patent for $1million. Pampers was born in 1961. Babies still leak, but, nappy-changing no longer drives mothers crazy.
(2) Foot-Pedal Trash Can : Lillian Gilbreth was smart. In the early 1900s she invented the shelves inside the refrigerator. That was not the end of her ingenuity. She tidied up cleaning when she invented a foot-pedal trash can.
(3) Windshield Wipers : Driving to work or on a first date and rain plays spoilsport. To beat the drops and drive on, you just turn the windshield wiper on. Go back to 1903, Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper. But there weren’t many takers. People thought it was safer to drive on in snow and rain than pull a lever. Cadillac bought into the idea and became the first company to include wipers in all car models.
(4) Scotch–guard : It happened in a lab. It was an accident. One day 3M (or Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company as it was previously called ), chemist Patsy Sherman noticed that the fluoro-chemical rubber spilled on a lab assistant’s shoe wouldn’t come off. But the stain repelled water, oil and other liquids without changing the colour of the shoe. Sherman and her co-inventor Samuel Smith called it scotch-guard.
(5) Liquid Whitener : Much before there was the “delete” key on the PC, secretaries would clank the typewriter keys and write long letters. And they made their mistakes. Secretary Bette Nesmith Graham was smart. She secretly used white tempera paint to cover up her typing errors. She spent hours perfecting the formula and patented Liquid Paper in 1958. Gillette bought her company in 1979 for $47.5million.
(6) Square Bottom Paper Bags : When you go shopping and bring that bunch of asparagus and bottles of shampoo in a paper bag, did you notice its square bottom ? In the beginning paper bags were like envelopes. Cotton mill worker Margaret Knight invented a machine that could cut and glue square bottoms to a paper bag. That divided weight across the base and shopping changed forever.
(7) Monopoly : The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1903, when American Elizabeth (Lizzie) J Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George. It was intended as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies.
(8) Folding Cabinet Bed : Sarah Elizabeth Goode was an inventor. Her invention came out of necessity with people living in small homes. Goode invented a folding cabinet bed which provided people who lived in small spaces to utilise their space efficiently. When the bed was folded up, it looked like a desk. It had spaces for storage.
(9) Alphabet Blocks : Author Adeline DT Whitney invented wooden blocks to help children learn their ABCs. She patented it in 1882.
(10) Kevlar : Stephanie Louise Kwolek, an American chemist, is best known for inventing the first of a family of synthetic fibres of exceptional strength and stiffness —— Kevlar. She was amazed to find that the new fibre would not break when nylon typically did. Not only was it stronger than nylon, Kevlar was five times stronger than steel by weight.
——-Preeti Verma Lal.