By Elizabeth Logan. Photos: Getty Images.
Ever since Eve invented clothes, women have been makers, doers, and creators. Even Belle wants in on the female inventor action. While you might not realize it, you use objects and devices every single day that were invented by women. In honor of the upcoming Day Without a Woman, let's take a look at just a few of the myriad contributions women have made to the wide world of ideas.
All those hyper-masculine space adventures where women exist to be rescued from robot dragons (I don't watch a lot of sci-fi, can you tell?) have a teenage girl, Mary Shelley, to thank for their existence. Her novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (you may have heard of it?) begat a genre that has been popular for 200 years. No small feat for a woman born at a time when writing was considered man's work...and man's work only. In the words of Shelley herself: "Take that, H.G. Wells." (Mary Shelley never said this.)
An engine that loops codes? That was all Ada. Learning to use an early machine that could actually do that, and then expanding that machine's capabilities to make it user-friendly? That was Hopper's team.
Wakefield and her husband owned and operated the Toll House restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts, near Boston. One day while baking chocolate cookies, Wakefield realized she was out of baking chocolate (the kind that melts in the oven and spreads throughout the cookie) and decided to use chunks of Nestlé chocolate instead. Those chunks—well, chips—stayed together, and thus the CCC—and Nestlé Toll House—was born.
Hedy Lamarr (yes, the actress) was a wireless communications genius.
In addition to being an actress, model, and beauty icon, Lamarr and her collaborator, George Anthiel, used radio frequencies to create unbreakable codes and prevent messages from being intercepted by enemies; this technology was later used by naval ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Moreover, her "spread spectrum" technology is the foundation on which wireless cell phones were built. Thank you, Hedy, for cell phones!
In the 1950s Bette Graham invented Liquid Paper.
During the first half of the 1950s, Texan Graham was a single mother working as a secretary to support herself and her son. Her idea started out as a remarkably simple one: She used a small brush to cover her mistakes with white, water-based paint. Gradually, though, she and her collaborators tinkered with the formula and started selling bottles of what was called Mistake Out. The business grew slowly, then rapidly, becoming its own company that was acquired by Gillette for almost $48 million. (You read that number correctly.)
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson is the mother of modern telecommunications.
Dr. Jackson, the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT, worked at Bell Laboratories in the 1970s and 1980s, leading research that other scientists later built upon to create technologies for—including but not limited to—the portable fax, caller ID, and call-waiting.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
More from Glamour: