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windshield wipers

Four Women Inventors Who Helped Make Life Easier

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By Sharon Oliver

In honor of International Women’s Day (IWD), it would be almost unforgivable to not give a shout out to women who have made tremendous contributions to society. Unfortunately, and fortunately, the names of such extraordinary females are too many to list but the list is long enough to be remarkable.

Women have long been the backbone and frontrunner of families, organizations, ideas and inventions. Some, many have heard of and others have gone unrecognized. Hopefully, as time goes by, the unknown will be recognized for their greatness.

Mary Anderson

windshield wipers
Unsplash | Ezra Jeffrey-Comeau

One day while visiting in New York City in 1902, an Alabama woman and real estate developer named Mary Anderson got stuck in traffic. According to her great-great-niece, Reverend Sara Scott Wingo, Anderson was riding a streetcar on a snowy day and observed the streetcar driver having to get out and continually wipe of the windshield, thus causing delays.

Mary Anderson wondered if some sort of blade that could wipe windshields would be feasible. When she returned home to Birmingham, Anderson made a sketch of her device, wrote up a description and applied for a patent. The rest is history.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

closed ciruit
Gettyimages | Rapeepong Puttakumwong

Peep holes have their place, but thanks to a 43-year-old African American woman named Marie Van Brittan Brown, millions of people who own closed-circuit units feel more secure in their homes. Living in New York during the 1960s and working as a nurse who worked long, late hours, Brown wanted to feel safe in her crime-riddled neighborhood.

Tired of police being slow to respond to emergency calls, Brown, whose husband was an electronics technician, designed a closed-circuit security system that monitored visitors via camera and projected their images onto a television monitor in 1966. Not only that, a panic button contacted the police immediately and a remote control option allowed her to lock or unlock the door from a safe distance.

Alice Parker

Gettyimages | Javier Zayas Photography

Everyone enjoys a nice roaring fire blazing in a fireplace, but on those cold, frigid mornings, not all rooms in the home house individual fireplaces to keep the area warm and toasty. Perhaps that’s what Alice Parker was thinking back in 1919. This African-American woman living in New Jersey at the time thought using a centrally located heat source flowing through pipes to spread heat through homes would be a great idea.

It has been said that Parker indeed felt her fireplace was not enough for those cold New Jersey winters and her idea would eliminate people having to go outside in the cold to chop or buy wood and decrease the risk of house fires. Her original designs were never used but her concept of using natural gas and ducts was a major step towards heating systems.

Ruth Graves Wakefield

chocolate chip cookies
Gettyimages | boblin

Ah, the marriage between chocolate chips and cookie dough is like a match made in heaven and a love lasting just as long. Thanks to an “accident” made by Ruth Graves Wakefield, the world has been enjoying chocolate chip cookies for decades.

Back in the 1930s, customers at her Toll House Inn were enjoying a batch of butterscotch nut cookies. Wanting to create something different, Graves-Wakefield wanted to melt some chocolate into the dough but because she was in rush, she ended up crushing a Nestle bar with an ice pick into the dough and the chocolate chip cookie was born.

During World War II, U.S. soldiers stationed overseas shared the cookies they received in care packages and soon hundreds more soldiers were asking their own families to send them these cookies.

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