Women have been changing the world one invention at a time for hundreds of years. Yet, they continue to be under recognized by both the history books and with the general population for their role as major innovators. March is Women’s History Month and we will be highlighting historical female inventors as well as Emory’s historical female figures and inventors through a series of five blog posts. Here are five more female inventor’s who have shaped history. We hope you enjoy.
Ann Tsukamoto: In 1991, Ann received a patent for developing a process of isolating human stem cells. She separated human bone marrow cells, which have the potential to produce both red and white blood cells. This was a particularly important innovative procedure because it facilitated further research of the stem cell growth process, which is integral to the study of cancer cell growth research. Tsukamoto’s discovery helped improve the general medical understanding of blood systems in cancer patients and is still used in developing cancer treatments today.
Grace Hopper: was a computer scientist and a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. Perhaps her greatest innovative contributions to the world were her design contributions to the Harvard Mark I computer and the invention of a computer programming language compiler. Essentially the compiler enabled the translation of written language into computer code. Subsequently she championed the idea of machine independent computer programming language, which assisted in the development the computer codes that are used in most electronic devices today.
Maria Beasley: The Titanic is widely regarded as one of the worst maritime tragedies in modern history, however the death toll from this tragedy would have been much higher if it had not been for Maria Beasley. In the 1870s standard life rafts consisted of primitive wooden platforms that occasionally were attached to inner tubes. But in 1882 Beasley invented and patented a new compactable raft design which included guard rails and sturdy metal floaters. Her design was significantly safer, more compactable, and less flammable that earlier models and luckily for many passengers on the Titanic, Beasley’s rafts were the ones present on the boat.
Shirley Jackson: was a theoretical physicist and the first African-American woman to earn a PhD from MIT, is responsible for conducting groundbreaking research that facilitated the development inventions like portables faxes, touch tone phones, solar cells, fiber optic cables, call waiting, and caller ID. Some of her most influential work that contributed to these innovations was conducted in the 1970s and 80s, when she was working at AT&T’s Bell Labs. There she studied the optical and electronic properties of semiconductor materials. The results of her research were later used by many other innovators to create a wide range of influential and impactful inventions
Rosalind Franklin: Most people are familiar with the famous pair of James Watson and Francis Crick, who were credited with the discovery of the double helix configuration of DNA. However, a lesser known name is that of Rosalind Franklin, a biophysicist at Kings College in London. Franklin was in fact the first individual to capture a photo of DNA’s famed double helix using x-ray diffraction. Her photo was later shown to Watson and Crick, who used her picture to support their hypothesis. However, it is clear that Rosalind Franklin’s research shapes how we understand medicine and biomedical engineering today.
View these related blog posts on women
Female Inventors Who Have Changed Our Lives – Part 1
Female Inventors Who Have Changed Our Lives – Part 2
Emory Female Inventors
Celebrating Women Who Have Shaped Emory and Beyond
Interviews with two female inventors
Barbara Rothbaum – Treating Anxiety Disorders: Balancing the Real World and the Virtual World
Harriett Robinson – From Academic Researcher to Startup Scientist: Leaving the Lab to Pursue Your Innovation