By: Weegee Manlove
The 2013 National Women's History Month theme, Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination, honors generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
As we celebrate Women's History Month, here are a few women whose inventions have had an an impact in our homes and lives.
Josephine Cochrane - Mechanical Dishwasher
More often than not, inventions stem from necessity, as Josephine Cochrane could attest.
Josephine (March 8, 1839 - August 3, 1913), was the wife of a grocer and court clerk in Shelbyville, Illinois. She was also invented the first mechanical dishwasher in 1886.
Cochrane often threw fantastic dinner parties. Out of frustration that her heirloom china was getting chipped or even broken when her servants washed her dishes, she decided to take matters into her own hands and designed a machine to do the work.
She measured her dishes before designing wire compartments to hold the various sizes and shapes. The wire frame was then placed inside a boiler. A hand-cranked motor would turned the wheel and shoot hot soapy water up from the bottom. The user than poured water over the clean, but soapy, dishes.
She showed her invention at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and won the highest prize for "best mechanical construction, durability and adaptation to its line of work". She started the Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company, which became part of KitchenAid, which became part of Whirlpool.
Visit www.nndb.com for more information on Josephine Cochrane.
Ruth Wakefield - Chocolate Chip Cookie
There are times that inventions are formed by just tweaking an everyday recipe a bit. That's exactly how the chocolate cookie was developed.
The sweet world-famous treat was created in 1930 by Ruth Wakefield. Ruth and her husband Kenneth had purchased a home in Whitfield, Massachusetts and turned it into a lodge called the Toll House Inn.
Ruth would cook meals and baked goodies for guests, including a recipe for a chocolate butter drop cookie.
One day, while baking, she realized she had ran out of a key ingredient - baker's chocolate. Instead, she chopped up a Nestle Sweet-Chocolate Bar and added them to the dough. Her new recipe invention became known as the Toll House Cookie.
The story goes on to say that "Nestle saw sales of its Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar jump dramatically, and Ruth and Nestle came together to reach an agreement that would allow Nestle to print the "Toll House Cookie" recipe on its packaging. Part of this agreement included supplying Ruth with all of the chocolate she could use for the rest of her life."
Click here for more information on Ruth Wakefield.
Patsy Sherman - Scotchgard Stain Repellent
She was one of a very small group of women in the field of research chemistry at 3M Company. In 1953, Sherman and her colleague, Sam Smith, were working with flurochemicals to develop a new kind of rubber for jet aircraft fuel lines.
One day, a lab assistant dropped a bottle of synthetic latex Sherman had developed - spilling it on her shoes. The two chemists noticed that the liquid did not alter the shoes, but rather it repelled water, oil and other liquids.
Sherman and Smith continued to develop the new product that led to the creation of the fabric stain repellent known as Scotchgard.
According to Famous Women Inventors, "Sherman encourages aspiring inventors with advice that she herself learned decades ago: 'Keep your eyes and mind open, and don't ignore something that doesn't come out the way you expect it to. Just keep looking at the world with inventor's eyes!'"
Visit www.women-inventors.com for more information on Patsy Sherman.