Special Report

50 Things You Never Knew Were Invented by Women

Source: NASA

36. Hydyne rocket fuel
> Inventor: Mary Sherman Morgan
> Year / period: 1957

Explorer I, the first satellite ever launched into orbit by the United States, owed its success to Hydyne, the improved rocket fuel that Morgan created during her time as technical lead at North American Aviation’s Rocketdyne Division.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

37. Immunosuppressive drug
> Inventor: Gertrude Belle Elion
> Year / period: 1957

During her long career as a pharmacologist, Elion helped develop countless drugs that are used in the treatment of AIDS, malaria, herpes, and cancer. Along with George Herbert Hitchings, she invented the first immunosuppressive drug, Azathioprine, which was initially used for chemotherapy patients, and eventually for organ transplants.

Source: goce / Getty Images

38. Bullet-proof fiber
> Inventor: Stephanie Kwolek
> Year / period: 1966

While searching for strong but lightweight plastics to use in car tires, DuPont researcher Stephanie Kwolek discovered what would become known as Kevlar. This revolutionary fiber has saved countless lives in the form of bullet-proof vests, and is also used in numerous applications, such as bridge cables, canoes, and frying pans.

Source: Ales_Utovko / Getty Images

39. Space rocket propulsion system
> Inventor: Yvonne Brill
> Year / period: 1974

Brill’s groundbreaking invention, the hydrazine resistojet, streamlined various rocket propulsion systems, which all required different types of fuel and added prohibitive weight, into a lighter system with a single fuel source. Monopropellant thrusters are now standard, and are why we have self-propelling satellites.

Source: PeopleImages / Getty Images

40. Call-center system
> Inventor: Erna Schneider Hoover
> Year / period: 1967

Before Hoover’s invention of a telephone call traffic system, phone circuit equipment at Bell Labs — where she was a researcher — was constantly overloaded. Her computerized solution monitored call volumes and adjusted acceptance rates accordingly, so as not to overload circuits.

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