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Female Inventors

Female inventors are often overlooked when it comes to inventions. They often do not receive the same recognition as their male counterparts, but they still have their place in the world of inventions. For example, Evelyn Berezin, who invented the first word processor and computerized airline booking system, was an early pioneer in the field of technology. She realized that her gender was likely to hinder her progress in the industry, and decided to start her own company to launch her inventions.
Harriet Williams Russell Strong

In the early twentieth century, Harriet Williams Russell Strong, a female inventor from California, fought for the rights of women. She pushed for the rights of women in education and business, and was an avowed supporter of suffrage. Her contributions to the world were widespread. She became the first female member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and founded the Ebell Club. She also served as the first female president of the feminist Business League of America. Her pioneering work led to two federal projects – the Hoover Dam and the All-American Canal. In 2001, she was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Harriet Williams Russell Strong’s early life was filled with hardships and challenges, but she was determined to fulfill her dreams. After graduating from Miss Mary Atkin’s Young Ladies Seminary, she was a mother of four and recently widowed. After losing her husband, she inherited a large ranch in California. Her innovations aided in flood mitigation, dry land irrigation, and the production of electricity with hydropower dams. Her contributions were so influential that she was elected to the Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. She was a member for 19 years and later became the first female delegate to the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.
Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was born in 1910, the same year that the world war was declared. Growing up in colonial North Africa, she was fascinated by crystals, especially those with geometric shapes. While visiting her parents in North Africa, Hodgkin came across a shiny black mineral in their yard. Inspired by her fascination, she asked her parents to let her study it. A soil scientist gave her the necessary reagents, and she read a book by William Henry Bragg on the use of X-rays for crystal analysis. In 1939, Hodgkin was able to complete her thesis and patent.

Although suffering from chronic arthritis for decades, Hodgkin persevered and built an impressive portfolio of research. Her work included the first crystal structure of a complex organic molecule using X-ray crystallography. Throughout her life, she was active in peace organizations and became an activist.
Ella Gaillard

In 1885, Ella Gaillard created a musical watch and calendar that acted as a paperweight and portable fountain. Her music box was so innovative that it actually spewed water while it played. She also invented a device called an eyeless needle. This device eliminated the need for a double surgical thread and allowed for less scarring. The invention is still used in surgery to this day.
Marjorie Joyner

Marjorie Joyner is a well-known American female inventor. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Joyner was an activist, philanthropist, and educator. She is perhaps best known for creating the first permanent hair-wave machine. Joyner was the first African-American woman to make a machine that could permanently style a woman’s hair.

She was also an advocate for black women and racial equality. She helped establish several organizations to help African Americans and other minorities obtain a better life. Her work is featured at the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian also has a permanent wave machine in its collection and a recreation of her salon. Joyner passed away at the age of 98 due to heart failure.
Evelyn Berezin

Evelyn Berezin was born April 12, 1925 in the Bronx, New York. Her parents were Russian immigrants who came to the United States in the early 1900s. Her mother was a seamstress, and her father worked as a fur cutter. She grew up in the Inwood-Sherman section of the East Bronx. She attended public schools in the area, including Public School 6 in New York City. After graduation, Berezin continued her studies at the New York University.

Besides designing the first computerized airline reservation system, Berezin also created the first word processor. In addition to her early successes, she also fought against gender-related barriers in her field. Her innovations include the first automated bank transactions and the world’s first computerized airline reservation system.


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