Since 1985, Congress has authorized the President to proclaim the month of March as Women’s History Month to celebrate, recognize and reflect upon the often-overlooked contributions women have made to our country through their actions and inventions. We, the Boundary County Human Rights Task Force, are celebrating and sharing with you in this month a few of the remarkable women whose countless inventions found in our homes, businesses, restaurants, hospitals, and outside have enhanced our lives.
In the archives of patents are recorded contributions by women in science and technology. Chemist Stephanie Kwolek began in 1946 researching and experimenting on liquid chemical solutions. While working on an alternative for steel in radial car tires, she developed a fiber that has saved thousands of lives. Her invention of Kevlar, a strong but lightweight synthetic fiber, has numerous uses including boots for firefighters, spacecraft parts, bulletproof vests, other protective gear, and sporting equipment.
Tara Astigurraga, a member of the Choctaw Nation, has more than seventy five patents which has put her on the list of master inventors. Beginning as an IBM intern she invented technology in storage, networking, and security solutions. As a technical instructor she strives to give opportunities to rural and Native American communities.
Amy Prieto, born in Columbia, became a chemist at Colorado State University. Her invention produced non-toxic batteries that are long-lasting and fast charging with no flammable liquid components. In 2009 she founded her own company, Prieto Batteries.
Maria Telkes, after migrating from Hungary in 1925, completed her PHD in chemistry and began her work in solar energy. Her patents include a solar oven, helping people in remote areas without electricity, and a solar powered distiller to desalinate sea water, saving lives of people who are without water when lost at sea. Using the same technology she discovered a better way for farmers to dry their crops.
A math professor, Grace Hopper, became one of the first computer programmers writing communication codes. In 1952 she invented software that translated human programming into computer code. As a Naval Reserve officer she became a Rear Admiral. Because of her inventions we are able to type a command to our computers.
The first black woman to receive a doctorate from MIT, Shirley Jackson is accredited with various telecommunication technology leading up to the development of the touch tone telephone, fiber optic cable, solar cells, caller waiting, caller ID and portable fax. From 1991 to 1995 she focused on the electronic and optical properties of two-dimensional systems. In 1995 she served on the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Women have contributed in the invention and development of devices in the home and medical arenas. Marilyn Hamilton improved wheel chairs to become light weight. Dr. Patricia Bath developed the laser probe for cataracts. Marion Donovan in 1949 developed the disposable diaper. Margaret Knight developed the flat folding paper bag. Josephine Cochrane, in the early 1900’s, invented the mechanical dish washer. Mary Anderson developed the rubber blade on windshield wipers. Tabatha Babbit invented the circular saw, the spinning wheel and false teeth.
These are only a few of the countless women who throughout history have made contributions that changed all of our lives, even in the shadow of discriminatory practices. The Boundary County Human Rights Task Force celebrates and recognizes the strength, intelligence, and resiliency of all women, many overlooked in history.
To learn about many more inspirational women, go online to: Library of Congress, www.womenshistorymonth.gov.; Smithsonian Institute, https://womenshistory.si.edu; and A Mighty Girl, www.mightygirl.com.