While some of these innovations save lives, others are essential to our daily routines. On the eve of International Women’s Day, we decided to take stock of the most revolutionary discoveries made by women researchers.
Wireless transmission technology
Famous Hollywood star of the black and white era, Hedy Lamarr also made history as an outstanding engineer. During World War II, she developed a frequency hopping system that would make Allied radio-guided torpedoes resistant to signal jamming. Although initially ignored, his invention eventually gained recognition and paved the way for modern technologies such as GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
Have you ever looked at your dishwasher after a family dinner and wondered who to thank for such a miracle? Now you know your hero. In 1886, tired of her china being crushed when washed by hand, housekeeper Josephine Cochrane invented an automatic dishwasher in the shed behind her house. The device cleaned the plates kept in a rack by spraying them with hot water under pressure. Although another prototype already existed, it was Cochrane’s device that was a real success on the market.
Thanks to Alice Parker, millions of people can heat their homes on a limited budget. Introduced in 1919, his revolutionary design for central heating used natural gas instead of wood and coal. More energy efficient compared to previous solutions, the gas boiler could distribute the heat evenly throughout the building. Such heaters quickly found their way into apartment buildings. Even today, Parker’s innovations live on in modern heating systems.
During her career as an inventor, Maria Beasley patented 15 devices, including one that literally saved her life. In 1882, she designed a fireproof life raft, practical for storage and equipped with railings. It became a major step towards safer maritime navigation: the first emergency boats were simple ship’s boats that could be easily destroyed both on board and overboard. 30 years later, similar boats were used to save people from sinking with the infamous Titanic.
Stem cell isolation
In 1991, stem cell researcher Ann Tsukamoto and her colleagues patented the process of identifying and isolating blood stem cells found in the human body. The discovery quickly became crucial for the treatment of cancer and spurred research in this field. Applied to bone marrow transplantation, it has since saved thousands of lives and still holds great potential for future discoveries.