Special Report

Greatest Women Innovators and Inventors

Source: Liudmila Chernetska / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Florence Parpart (unknown)
> Field: Invention

Little is known about Florence Parpart, except that she was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, probably in the 1860s, and was listed by the U.S. Census as a housewife in the early 20th century. Parpart is remembered for designing a street sweeper that was a significant improvement over an existing machine – she patented her creation and then entered into contracts for its manufacturer and sales. She is most remembered for another invention, however. She modernized the home kitchen by patenting an electric refrigerator.

Radia Perlman (1951- )
> Field: Technology

The author of two text books and holder of more than 100 patents, Radia Perlman has been a giant in the development of the internet. She is most famous for transforming Ethernet with Spanning-Tree Protocol, or STP, which allows for networks of hundreds of thousands of nodes over a wide area. She also developed techniques to make routing more reliable

Karen Spärck-Jones (1935- )
> Field: Technology

Her early interest in linguistics led Karen Spärck-Jones to work on natural language processing, which provided the foundation for computer search engines. She went on to work on speech recognition systems. In the 1980s she worked with the British government encouraging computer research, and co-wrote a textbook on natural language processing systems. She was rewarded late in life with a full professorship at Cambridge University.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Mária Telkes (1900-1995)
> Field: Science

After earning a PhD in physical chemistry in Hungary, Mária Telkes went on to have a celebrated career in the U.S., working in the labs of a number of companies and educational institutions. She was a pioneer in the development of solar cells and making practical use of energy from the sun. Her first groundbreaking invention was a solar distiller which saved the lives of many downed pilots in WWII. She also created a solar oven and was part of a team that built the first solar home.

Source: Catalin Rusnac / iStock

Ann Tsukamoto (1952- )
> Field: Science

Ann Tsukamoto is highly respected for her research into stem cells, the key to life-saving cancer treatments. Her research has led to a better understanding of how stem cells function in the blood. She is a co-holder of patents for the isolation of human stem cells.

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