Female inventors, engineers and scientists have made enormous contributions our lives. Sadly, female inventors are often overlooked or their inventions are incorrectly attributed to men.  Today the spotlight is on female inventors and how they changed the world.

1.Elizabeth Magie(1866-1948)- Monopoly

Game night is incomplete without this infamous game-board. American Magie created Monopoly. Originally called The Landlord’s Game and a critique of the injustices of unchecked capitalism, the idea for Monopoly was stolen by Charles Darrow and sold to Parker Brothers. The company did eventually track down Magie but only offered her $500 for her invention.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Elizabeth Magie | She is Africa

2. Dr Shirley Ann Jackson (1946- )- The source of all things telecommunication 

American Jackson, a theoretical physicist, was the first black woman to be awarded a Ph.D. from MIT, in 1973. While working at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey in the late 1970s and ’80s, she conducted breakthrough scientific research with subatomic particles that enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch-tone telephone, solar cells, fiber-optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Dr Shirley Ann Jackson | She is Africa

3. Caroline L. Herschel (1750-1848): comets

German Caroline Herschel  is the first woman to discover a comet. In 1783, Caroline made her first discovery: A nebula that was not included in the Messier catalog. That same night, Caroline independently discovered Messier 110(NGC 205), the second companion of the Andromeda Galaxy. Caroline contributed significantly to the field of astronomy. Together with her brother William, Caroline discovered over 2400 astronomical objects over twenty years.On February 26, 1783, Caroline discovered an open cluster known today as NGC 2360. Later on, she went on to discover and catalog 14 new nebulae, a low-density cloud of gas and dust in which a star is born, including NGC 205, the companion to the Andromeda Galaxy.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Caroline Herschel | She is Africa

4. Jeanne Villepreux-Power (1794-1871) – aquarium

French born Jeanne Villepreux-Power was the woman who invented the aquarium.  She was a self-taught naturalist who traveled around Sicily recording and describing its flora and fauna, collecting specimens of minerals, fossils, butterflies, and shells. In 1832, Jeanne was the first person to create aquaria for experimenting with aquatic organisms.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Jeanne Villepreux-Power | She is Africa

5. Yvonne Madelaine Claeys Brill (1929-2013)- electrothermal hydrazine thruster

Canadian-born Brill was an aerospace engineer rocket scientist who pioneered the electrothermal hydrazine thruster. She is believed to be the only woman in the United States who was researching into rocket science in the mid-1940s. Brill also developed the concept for a new rocket engine. She called it hydrazine resistojet. Resistojet is a method of spacecraft propulsion that provides thrust by heating a non-reactive fluid.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Yvonne Brill | She is Africa

6. Dr Patricia Bath (1942- ) – medical equipment

Dr Bath is one of the top female inventors.  This American doctor who invented Laserphaco Probe: a device that uses less invasive and safer method for removing cataracts.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Dr Patricia Bath | She is Africa

7. Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958) – DNA double helix

Rosalind Franklin, a British biophysicist, was the first person to capture a photographic image in 1952 using a technique she had honed: observing molecules using X-ray diffraction (nope, we’ve got no idea what this is either, don’t worry). Although the discovery of the DNA double helix is often attributed to Watson and Crick, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1962, it was not actually theirs to claim.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Rosalind Franklin | She is Africa

8. Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1999) – CCTV system

Marie Van Brittan Brown, an American nurse, created the closed circuit TV security system. She also created a remote control that’s able to unlock doors.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Marie Van Brittan Brown | She is Africa

9.  Maria Telkes (1900-1995) – 100% solar powered house

The Hungarian scientist is famous for creating the first thermoelectric power generator in 1947, designing the first solar heating system for the Dover Sun House in Dover, Massachusetts, and the first thermoelectric refrigerator in 1953 using the principles of semiconductor thermoelectricity.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Maria Telkes | She is Africa

10. Ruane Sharon Jeter (1959- ) and Shelia Jeter- toaster and staple machine

Breakfast has never been the same. American Ruane  created a toaster with a digital timer in 1987, which allowed for choosing mild to dark toasting. On September 16, 1997, she and her sister Shelia Lynn Jeter filed patents for a multi-functional machine that featured a stapler, staple remover, pencil sharpener, hole punch, calculator, tape measure, architectural and engineering scale.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Ruane Jeter | She is Africa

11. Grace Hopper (1906-1992) – computer code

American Hopper realised that programming would be more accessible if people could code in their own language; she invented the first compiler in 1952, essentially teaching computers to “talk.” She later co-invented the COBOL computer language, the first universal programming language used in business and government.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Grace Hopper | She is Africa

12. Maria Beasley  – life raft

American born Maria is literally a life saver. In Maria’s later life she wanted to create a better life raft that was “fire-proof, compact, safe and readily launched.” She invented this new design in 1880 (picture is unavailable due to copyright) her new design included guard railings surrounding the raft and rectangular metal floats. This design is able to fold and unfold fold so it is easy to store, even with the rails.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Maria Beasley | She is Africa

13. Dr Betty Wright Harris (1940- ) – explosion detection invention

Dr Wright Harris improved the safety of millions.   She is the inventor of the “sensitive spot test” which detects the presence of 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6 trinitrobeneze (TATB). The test is used by both military as well as private industry, and the Department of Homeland Security uses the test to screen for nitroaromatic explosives. Harris received a patent for the invention in 1986.

Female inventors that changed the world ! – Dr Wright Harris | She is Africa

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