By signing up you accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

5 Life-Changing Products You Didn't Know Were Invented by Women

I've been thinking about women's ingenuity a lot recently; after all, crises like the one we're facing now fuel innovation. They especially fuel innovation from those who are on the frontlines, in desperate need of solutions.

That's why I'd bet good money that many of the inventions and advancements that will help get us through this COVID-19 pandemic will be thanks to women's ingenuity. Women hold 76% of healthcare jobs and are on the front lines treating patients with coronavirus, and women are also 75% of primary caregivers and spend 50% more time caring for family members than men do. And they make almost 80% of the healthcare decisions for their families, to boot. Whether it's medical breakthroughs, new ways to manufacture protective gear, or inventions for running a home while managing children and work, I expect we'll see many more life-changing inventions from women in the weeks and months to come.

But the sad truth is that women have all too often stepped up during these moments of crisis, only to have their achievements overlooked, forgotten, or worst of all, wrongly credited to men.

The gender gap in U.S. patents bears this out: fewer than 8% of U.S. patents list a woman as the primary inventor.

Some may see this as a sign that women simply make fewer inventions than men. But there's a lot more at play than that, says USA Today, which explains that the "disparity is due in part to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office being more likely to reject patents with women as sole applicants" and that "when patents sought by women are approved, they are more likely to have added parameters that made the description of the patents far more detailed" and "lower the scope of the patent, making it weaker and less valuable."

But just because women aren't as often heralded and celebrated for their inventions, that doesn't mean that they're not out there inventing things. And until other women start getting the credit they deserve, let's celebrate these five women for changing our lives in big and small ways.

1. Computer algorithms, invented by Ada Lovelace in 1843

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, worked with inventor Charles Babbage on his computing machine called the Analytical Engine. While helping him translate an article about his machine, she added her own notes—increasing the article's length threefold—detailing her realization that a computer could calculate results without having help from a human. She included an algorithm about how the machine could be programmed to calculate Bernoulli numbers, and her paper was published in an English journal that year under her initials.

We love a glass-ceiling-shattering woman who was, oh, 100 to 150 years ahead of her time.

2. Coffee filters, invented by Melitta Benz in 1908

German housewife Melitta Benz was frustrated by the grounds she always found in her coffee. One morning at home, she ripped a piece of blotting paper from her son's school notebook and placed it over a tin pot she'd punched holes into. Hallo: the first coffee filter.

After she received her German patent for her invention, she and her husband started a business making paper filters in their hometown of Dresden. The company still exists today, and employs over 4,000 people across the world. Cheers to that.

3. Bulletproof fiber aka Kevlar, invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1966

Chemist Stephanie Kwolek was experimenting with polyimides for her employer DuPont, trying to come up with alternative materials for reinforcing car tires. She created an artificial fiber that was resistant to flame and corrosion and five times stronger than steel—which was later patented by DuPont and marketed as Kevlar.

Her invention has saved countless lives and transformed several industries, from sports equipment to automobile manufacturing.

4. Word processors, invented by Evelyn Berezin in 1971

I'm writing this article in an offspring of Evelyn Berezin's groundbreaking invention of the first word processor.

After studying calculus and physics, Berezin worked as an engineer, designing some of the first computers sold to the Defense Department. She realized she could use semiconductor chips to create a computer that would allow secretaries to write and edit text less manually. She called it to the Data Secretary, and for a decade or so, she led the company she'd founded to sell and market her invention.

In later years, bigger players like IBM (and then Microsoft) overtook her product, but if you've ever opened a blank word processor to write a magnum opus (or, you know, a grocery list) in, you have Berezin to thank.

5. Sport bras, invented by Lisa Lindahl, Polly Smith, and Hinda Miller in 1977

Lisa Lindahl took up running in her late 20s, but had a hard time making it around the track without her bosom bouncing along painfully. She and her sister were discussing the issue and wondered why there wasn't a jockstrap—that piece of fabric that protects a man's nether region during physical activity—for women. Lindahl partnered with her costume-designer friend Polly Smith to create a prototype with the help of her assistant Hinda Miller. Soon after, they realized they had a truly useful invention on their hands and started a company, found a fabricator, and started selling their product to sporting goods stores.

I'm very grateful to the makers of the Jockbra (later known as the Jogbra; later still known as a sports bra) for the technology that allows me to run around the block (on the rare occasions that I do that) without pain. My bosom thanks them.


What other women inventors do you look up to? And have you ever patented something? We'd love to hear your story! Drop a reply in the comments or email us at


How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.


5 Things All Product Managers Should Do for Their Engineers (And Vice Versa)

Tips from SeatGeek's Anuja Chavan

When Anuja Chaven turns on a fan in her house in Jersey City, she can't help but think about how every piece of it works.

"There are an extensive amount of things that have to go perfectly at the same time," says the former engineer (and current product manager at live event ticketing platform SeatGeek).

It was that interest in understanding how things actually worked that drove Anuja to study engineering—first electrical, during her undergrad in India, and then computer science, during her master's program in the U.S.


The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

3 Pieces of Advice from Working Moms at Pluralsight

Being fully committed to work and family is a challenge that many working parents have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless pursuing a fulfilling full-time career, while taking an active role as a parent. Achieving a healthy balance can help keep you motivated and productive at work, while allowing you to be fully present when you're home.

We recently chatted with working moms at technology skills platform, Pluralsight, about their best advice for striking that elusive work-life balance. Here were their key points:


How to Make the Most of Being on a Growing Team: 3 Tips from Plex’s Adriana Bosinceanu

When the startup Adriana Bosinceanu was working for got acquired, things changed fast.

She went from being one of eight engineers on a small team building a streaming service to joining a company that was five times larger and had a much bigger scope.

That company was Plex, where Adriana has been working remotely as a software engineer for the last four and a half years.

As her team grew from two people to ten, Adriana decided to lean into the opportunity to grow; along the way, she found herself deepening her technical skills, her self-confidence, and her relationships. We sat down with Adriana to learn exactly how she did that, and to hear the tips she has for other engineers experiencing growth opportunities on their team.


What These Companies Are Doing to Celebrate Juneteenth 2021

*Updated on June 17th, 2021 to reflect Juneteenth officially being named a Federal Holiday in the U.S.*

Juneteenth has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s, but in recent years (particularly in response to global protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans), there has been a surge in interest in the day that celebrates freedom.

Before it became an official federal holiday, many businesses shifted toward marking June 19th as an annual company holiday, creating different initiatives around the holiday and offering employees opportunities to learn, reflect, and take action toward racial equality.

© Rebelmouse 2020