National Women’s History Month got its start as International Women’s Day on March 8 in 1911. By 1978 the day stretched into the week around March 8 in the Sonoma, CA, school district, and a movement commenced to officially organize National Women’s History Week. An official declaration from former President Jimmy Carter soon followed.
The full month was voted on by Congress in 1987, and since 1995, every U.S. President has issued an annual proclamation and several states have adopted March as the official Women’s History Month.
To celebrate National Women’s History Month, we thought we’d point out some really cool inventions by women that most people probably never realized were full-on girl power.
1. Dishwasher – The kitchen appliance that makes life in general just a little bit easier was invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1887. She thought it made most sense to market her machine to larger operations like hotels and got so successful she established her own dishwasher factory.
2. Electric Refrigerator – Another appliance without which modern kitchens couldn’t operate was designed by a woman. Florence Parpart not only invented the electric refrigerator in 1914, she also owned a patent for a street cleaner that she sold to communities across the country.
3. Chocolate Chip Cookie – This favorite snack (dessert?) was an accidental invention. Ruth Wakefield was making Butter Drop Do cookies in 1930 in the old toll house outside Boston she and her husband turned into an inn and restaurant. When she realized she didn’t have any more baking chocolate to use in the recipe, she broke up a Nestle chocolate bar thinking the candy would melt. Well, by now we all know that crumbled candy bar evolved in Nestle Toll House chocolate chips. If you turn the package over, that’s Wakefield’s recipe on the back.
4. Circular Saw – Spring is fast approaching, and many people are starting their project lists, a couple of which might require the use of a circular saw. Tabitha Babbitt in 1810 came up with the concept of the circular saw after watching men cut wood with two-handled pit saws that only cut in one direction. Correctly believing the saw would be more efficient if it cut in both directions, Babbitt – normally a weaver – attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel.
5. Folding Cabinet Bed – In 1885, Sarah E. Goode was the first African-American woman awarded a patent, and she got it for the ancestor of the space-saving Murphy bed. Goode’s folding cabinet bed was a desk by day and a comfy bed by night, maximizing space in small homes by providing an advanced level of storage and functionality not readily available at the end of the 19th century.