Skip To Content

    15 Inventions You Had No Idea Were Made By Women

    Because it should be International Women's Day every day!

    1. Caller ID and Call Waiting (Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson)

    Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images

    Dr. Jackson is "perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science," according to Time Magazine. The first black woman to get a PhD at M.I.T., she was awarded the Medal of Science by President Obama in 2014. Dr. Jackson is the reason why you have Caller ID and Call Waiting.

    2. The Coffee Filter (Melitta Bentz)


    Frustrated that coffee grounds always ended up in her cup, Bentz tore a piece of blotting paper from her son's notebook and used it to filter the coffee. She was granted a patent in Berlin in 1908. In 2017, the Melitta Group employed over 4,000 workers globally and was worth about $1.8 billion.

    3. The Retractable Leash (Mary A. Delaney)

    Delaney, who lived in New York with her dog, continually struggled with her pup wrapping the leash around lampposts or annoying pedestrians. Patented in 1908, the retractable leash remains popular with dog lovers today.

    4. Monopoly (Elizabeth Magie)


    Magie created The Landlord's Game, which she developed as an implicit critique of capitalism and hoped would "let the children once see clearly the gross injustice of our present land system." She was awarded the patent in 1904 and published the game herself in 1906. In 1932, Charles Darrow came across the game at a gathering with friends. He tweaked a few things, pretended he created it, and sold it. Magie ended up getting a measly $500 while Darrow made off handsomely. Even worse, Magie lamented that her beloved game became a celebration of capitalism.

    5. Chocolate Chip Cookies (Ruth Wakefield)

    Getty Images

    Wakefield and her husband owned a Massachusetts restaurant called Toll House Inn. She created a new dessert using a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar, which became an instant success. In 1939, Nestlé paid Wakefield — reportedly only $1 — to print her recipe on their packages. She was hired as a recipe consultant and received free chocolate for life.

    6. Alphabet Blocks (Adeline D. T. Whitney)


    Moms and dads everywhere can thank Whitney for these toys, patented in 1822, that help kids learn their ABCs.

    7. The Dishwasher (Josephine Cochrane)


    Cochrane's fine china would always chip when washed in the sink so she set out to find a solution. When her husband died, she used the tragedy as motivation, and her commercial dishwasher was patented in 1886.

    8. Nonreflecting Glass (Katherine Blodgett)

    Warner Bros.

    Blodgett was the first woman scientist to be hired at General Electric's Research Laboratory. She left to become the first woman to obtain a PhD in Physics at Cambridge and then returned to find a way to prevent glass from reflecting a glare. Her discovery was patented in 1938 and revolutionized glasses, telescopes, cameras, and microscopes.

    9. Home Security System (Marie Van Brittan Brown)

    Getty Images

    Brown was fearful of crime in her New York neighborhood so she created the first home security system. A camera at the front door displayed the visitor on a monitor in her bedroom, and intercom equipment allowed her to speak to the guest from the safety of her home. She even included an alarm that would alert policeman she was in danger. Brown and her husband were granted the patent in 1969.

    10. Step-On Trash Can (Lillian Moller Gilbreth)


    Gilbreth was the mother of 12 children so she knew better than anyone the importance of efficient items in the home. In addition to patenting the trash can that opens with a foot pedal, she also created the electric food mixer. She won over 20 awards throughout her career. Two of her children wrote the popular book, Cheaper By The Dozen, about their childhood experiences.

    11. Scotchgard (Patsy Sherman)


    One day Sherman's lab assistant dropped a beaker and splashed some synthetic latex on his shoes. She realized the latex could not be washed off, and it was actually waterproof. Sherman and her colleague, Sam Smith, spent three years perfecting the chemical before patenting it in 1955.

    12. Natural Gas Furnace (Alice H. Parker)

    FOX Richmond / Via

    Before Parker's invention, families would use coal or wood to heat their homes in fireplaces that couldn't reach the entire house. Parker designed a natural gas furnace that sent warm air throughout the home in ducts. Multiple burners allowed different temperatures for different rooms. The patent was granted in 1919.

    13. Windshield Wipers (Mary Anderson)

    Getty Images

    Anderson, an Alabama native, was visiting New York while it was snowing. Her driver repeatedly got out of the car to clean the windshield. Once Anderson returned home, she designed a wiper that was controlled by a handle in the car. She received the patent in 1903. Though car companies did not purchase the idea from her, Anderson's windshield wipers became popular soon after she invented them.

    14. The Paper Bag (Margaret E. Knight)


    Knight designed the machine that manufactures the paper square-bottom bag that's still used at grocery stores today. A man caught a peek of her invention and tried to claim the idea as his own by saying no woman could have created such a machine. Knight came to court with receipts, showing her drawings and blueprints to the judge. She won the right to patent her idea in 1871.

    15. Ice Cream Maker (Nancy Johnson)


    Johnson changed the world forever when she created the ice cream maker. She used a pail to hold crushed ice and a smaller bucket inside where the actual ice cream was made. She even designed it to make two different flavors at once. Her patent was granted in 1843, and the universe has been in her debt ever since.

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form