Honoring Female Inventors – Part 3

May is National Inventors Month, a month set aside to recognize the curiosity and imagination of people who innovate and create.

The May 13 blog post highlighted the following female inventors: Jeanne Villepreux-Power, Margaret Knight, Josephine Cochrane, Mary Anderson, and Sarah Breedlove. You can read the post here.

The May 20 blog post highlighted the following female inventors: Melitta Bentz, Beulah Louise Henry, Ruth Graves Wakefield, Grace Hopper, and Virginia Apgar. You can read the post here.

Here are five more innovative women from across history:

Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1999)

American nurse Marie Van Brittan Brown was concerned about safety whenever she was home alone. The crime rate in her neighborhood of Queens, New York had been increasing, and police response time was slow. Working with her husband (an electrician), Brown created a system of four peepholes and a movable camera that connected wirelessly to a monitor in their bedroom. A two-way microphone allowed conversation with someone outside, and buttons could sound an alarm or remotely unlock the door. In addition to obtaining a patent in 1969, Brown received an award from the National Science Committee. Her innovative idea became the groundwork for modern home security systems.

Patricia Bath (b. 1942)

Patricia Bath was the first black person to serve as an ophthalmology resident at New York University and the first woman on staff at the Jules Stein Eye Institute. She was also the first African-American female doctor to receive a patent for medical purposes. She invented the Laserphaco Probe, a medical device that quickly and painlessly uses a laser to dissolve cataracts, then irrigates and cleans the eye to make inserting a replacement lens quick and easy. She is also the inventor of community ophthalmology, a new discipline dedicated to ensuring that all members of the population have access to eye and vision care.

Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta

When the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were graduate students at Columbia University’s School of Architecture. They were assigned a project to help with disaster relief in one of their classes. After speaking to a relief worker, Stork and Sreshta decided to create an inflatable, waterproof, and solar-powered light. The LuminAID Solar Light can be packed flat, charges in six hours to provide light for sixteen, and features a handle, making it easy to carry. They used a crowdfunding campaign to make the first 1,000 lights and later started a Give Light Project: one light is donated for every light purchased. They have also provided lights to Nepal and to Syrian refugees.

Ayla Hutchinson

After watching her mother cut her finger while splitting kindling, New Zealand teen Ayla Hutchinson decided to invent a device to make cutting kindling safer. She invented the Kindling Cracker as a science fair project. The cast-iron device uses a built-in ax blade in a safety cage. The cage holds the wood while you hit it with a hammer, easily splitting the log into pieces. After receiving a positive response to her prototype, she developed the idea further. Her father helped her start a company to manufacture it. Within two years, tens of thousands of Kindling Crackers were sold across New Zealand. In 2015, a distribution agreement with a major US tool company helped sell 22 tons of Kindling Crackers in North America.

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