8 Things You Didn't Know Were Invented By Women

Disposable diapers, dishwashers, and windshield wipers are just a few everyday essentials that were invented by women.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

The next time you throw your dirty plates in the dishwasher or play a rousing game of monopoly, it's a woman you should thank for making it all possible. Women inventors have been leaving their marks on the world since the beginning of time, even if they didn't always receive the credit they deserved, and Oxygen's upcoming show Quit Your Day Job, premiering Wed., March 30 at 10/9c, will be shedding light on some of them. Here are 8 things you probably didn't know were invented by women.

1. . Monopoly

Monopoly has long been a staple of family game nights, but what most people probably don't know is that its predecessor was invented by a woman. In the early 1900s, Elizabeth Magie created what was originally called The Landlord Game as a teaching tool to demonstrate the appeal of Georgism, an economic philosophy which promotes equal ownership among community members of everything found in nature. It's basically the antithesis of the Monopoly we know and love today, which makes it even more messed up that Charles Darrow ripped off her game 30 years later and sold it to Parker Brothers.

2. . Disposable Diapers

Parents everywhere should be thanking their lucky stars for the creativity and ingenuity of Marion Donovan. Like most parents, Donovan knew how stressful it could be having to repeatedly change diapers (and clothes, and sheets, and blankets), so she sat down at her sewing machine with a plastic shower curtain in the hopes of creating a solution. Her diaper cover was called "The Boater" and debuted at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1949. She attempted a fully disposable diaper next, and although manufacturers passed on the idea, calling it "impractical" and "superfluous," Victor Mills was later inspired by Donovan's idea and created Pampers.

3. . Dishwashers

Were it not for Josephine Cochrane, we'd all be stuck spending our evenings washing dishes by hand. What's funny is that Cochrane didn't have much experience washing dishes herself; she got the inspiration to build the first dishwasher after observing her servants mishandling her good china. In 1886, she patented her creation, and was later able to sell early dishwashers to hotels interested in downsizing their staff.

4. . Life Rafts

In the late 1800s, Maria Beasely invented the product that would go on to save countless lives—the life raft. Anyone who has ever been lost at sea might not have ever been found again were it not for Beasely's ingenuity. During her lifetime, she managed to make a fortune from her inventions, which included a barrel making machine (barrels were in high demand back in her day) and a foot warmer. She was a certified #boss before it was even really a thing for a woman to be.

5. . Car Heaters

The first car heater was created by Margaret A. Wilcox way back in 1893. In addition to maintaining the temperature of your car, it also kept the windows nice and fog-free. During her lifetime, Wilcox, a gifted engineer, also invented a dishwasher that doubled as a clothing washer, so she was pretty much a certified genius.

6. . Fire Escapes

The fire escape is yet another life-saving invention born from the brain of a woman. In the late 1800s, after countless tragic deaths, the city of New York passed a law requiring landlords to provide some means of escape for their multi-floor buildings. In 1887, Anna Connelly invented the fire escape - then a "fire escape bridge" - which tenants could use to travel to the next building if theirs was on fire.

7. . Windshield Wipers

Just imagine it - every time it rained or snowed, you'd have to stop the car every few minutes to get out and wipe the windows down before getting back into the car, only to do it over and over again. What a hellish experience. Thanks to Mary Anderson though, we don't have to drive our cars like cavemen anymore. The manual windshield wiper Anderson invented in 1903 may have been met with skepticism at the time, but clearly she was on to something. Unfortunately for her, it didn't catch on until the 1920s.

8. . Electric Refrigerators

Housewife/inventor Florence Parpart invented the first electric refrigerator in 1914. She was already a fairly successful inventor, having come up with an improved version of a street sweeper machine and making serious bank selling it all over the country. She was just as innovative with her electric fridges, hustling hard to get them into the homes of anyone who had electricity. 


 Four investors turn big ideas into big business on Oxygen’s new docuseriesQuit Your Day Jobpremiering Wed., March 30 at 10/9c. 

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