Surprisingly, textbooks are not always the best source of information. Between the downplay of slavery and science textbooks riddled with errors, there are many reasons to be up in arms with textbook creators. Every time textbooks fall under the eye of scrutiny, one thing gets forgotten: women. One of my fellow bloggers has written a great article about the history of women in textbooks. Here is a list of five things that women invented that most people take for granted in their daily life.
- Square bottomed paper bags
Paper bags were useless; they could not stand independently, or hold many groceries. Margaret Knight noticed the problem and developed a model for a square bottomed bag. It could distribute weight evenly which prevent tipping and allowed for more volume.
Knight even invented a wooden machine (right) that cut, folded, and glue the square bottoms onto the paper bags. Charles Annan stole her patent while Knight worked on an iron prototype. He claimed there was no way a woman could have developed such a complex machine. Eventually, she took the patent back in 1871.
Chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented the first synthetic fiber in 1964, poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide. The fiber has incredible strength and stiffness. The original intent was a lighter, stronger material for tires. However, the product they did develop lent itself perfectly for the creation of bullet-proof vests, bridge suspension ropes and protection for undersea optical fiber cables.
- Coffee Filters
Imagine your daily routine WITHOUT that pure, perfect cup of coffee. Before Melitta Bentz, coffee was soaked in a cloth bag. It came out gritty, bitter, and strong. Bentz put paper with holes in a brass pot and poured water through the paper. The paper trapped the ground and made coffee much smoother. Bentz patented the system in 1908 and started her own company. Melitta is currently one of the leading global coffee product companies.
- Fire Escapes
A fire escape pre-Anna Connelly was a pulley system with a basket. Personally, I’d rather risk jumping than hop in a pulley-basket rigging. Connelly patented her idea for exterior staircases the led to the next building in 1887. The turn of the century meant Connelly’s design was mandatory on all buildings. The modern fire escape is built on her original design.
- Windshield Wipers
Noticing the trolley car’s inability to deal with rain and snow, Mary Anderson conceived the idea of a metal arm with a squeegee on the end to keep windshields clear. Her invention was patented in 1903, but car ownership had not taken off yet. The patent expired in 1920, as the automobile industry picked up. Her design was lifted and added to every car as basic equipment.
Just imagine your life without all of these basic things. Weird, right? This is only a handful of lesser known inventions by women. Take a break from working on schoolwork and find some more examples, you may be suprised.