Special Report

Greatest Women Innovators and Inventors

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Josephine Cochran (1839-1913)
> Field: Manufacturing

A socialite, Josephine Cochran, was unhappy with the way her fine china got chipped in the sink. She took the dishwashing task away from the servants but was even more unhappy washing dishes herself. Having no training in science or technology, Cochran solved her problem by inventing a dishwashing machine. Finding herself in debt on her husband’s death, she started a successful business manufacturing and selling her invention, the first commercially viable dishwasher. It became even more popular after it was displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After her death, her company became KitchenAid, now a part of Whirlpool Corporation.

Source: Photos.com / PHOTOS.com>> via Getty Images

Marie Curie (1867-1934)
> Field: Medicine

Marie Curie is the first name that comes to mind in any discussion of women in science. Born in Poland and educated in Paris, she followed her husband and research partner, Pierre, as a professor of physics and head of the physics laboratory at the Sorbonne after his untimely death. Curie is most famous for her discovery of radium, its properties and its applications. She won numerous awards for her work, including a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. Curie died from aplastic anemia, which is thought to have been caused by her regular exposure to radiation.

Elizabeth J. Feinler (1931- )
> Field: Technology

Elizabeth Feinler, known as “Jake,” was one of the facilitators and builders of what became the internet. For 17 years she ran the Network Information Center – NIC – at the Stanford Research center, one of the connected centers of a government supported system known as ARPAnet, precursor to the internet. There she oversaw the publication of documentation and registries for the system, which ultimately led to the domain name system. Feinler described NIC as a “pre-historic Google”, distributing directories, first on paper and then online, and hosting a hotline for users of the system.

Source: PeopleImages / iStock via Getty Images

Letitia Mumford Geer (1852-1935)
> Field: Medicine

Letitia Mumford, a native of The Bronx, played an important role in the modernization of health care with her one-handed medical syringe, for which she filed for a patent in 1896. The device, which was the inspiration for today’s syringes, had the advantages of being cheap to manufacture and offering one-handed operation, and could be used by either the physician or the patient.

Adele Goldberg (1945- )
> Field: Technology

We use them everyday but don’t think about how much we rely on windows, icons, menus, and pointers as basic to our PC experience. They didn’t exist before Adele Goldberg and her colleagues at XeroxPARC developed a computer language, called SmallTalk-80, that was used to create one of the first graphic interfaces, the one that brought us those screen essentials.

In 2010, Goldberg was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.

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