Wonder Women of Science

Wonder Woman” has become the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman.  Here are some other noteworthy achievements by women.

Only 77 U.S. patents were credited to women from 1790 to 1860.  In contrast, 4,773 patents were issued to men in 1860 alone.  (Khan)

So on July 8, 1873, the Patent Office hired Anna Nichols as its first female patent examiner.  38 men and 7 women competed for positions, but only five men and Miss Nichols passed the scientific qualifying exam.  Contemporary accounts called it “the first and only such appointment ever given to a lady.”  (Horowitz)

The office hoped this would “possibly encourage women to submit inventions that they might have feared would be viewed with less sympathy by male examiners.”  (Khan)  Indeed, on July 14, 1885, Sarah Goode became (arguably) the first black woman to obtain a U.S. patent, for a folding cabinet bed (a precursor to the Murphy bed).

Some other noteworthy things invented by women:

  • Circular saw (Tabitha Babbitt, 1810)
  • Grocery bag (Margaret Knight, 1870)
  • Windshield wiper (Mary Anderson, 1903)
  • Coffee filter (Melitta Bentz, 1908)
  • Computer compiler and COBOL computer language (Admiral Gracy Murray Hopper, 1950s)
  • Kevlar bulletproof material (Stephanie Kwolek, 1964)

At Agilent, we value diversity in our workforce and support initiatives that advance women in technology.  Our employees actively participate in industry groups such as the Society of Women Engineers and the Association for Women in Science.


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