Hearing the word “inventor”, people usually think of someone like Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell – white men in white coats working in laboratories. Until this very day, not everyone would associate women and housewives with inventions that can change millions of lives.
Truth is women have long been challenging the status quo in the fields where men tend to take the leading role, attempting to eliminate the ingrained archetype and bringing to life lots of great machinery works.
In the category of household items alone, we can easily find a lot of outstanding inventions by women.
The dishwashing machine
One of the greatest household inventions that have been used until today is the dishwashing machine.
The first ever dishwasher was invented in 1886 by a noble woman – Josephine Garis Cochran, who found entertainment in her daily explorations. Wanting to have a machine which helped wash the dishes faster than her servants without breaking them, she started to make one as she could not find any elsewhere. Initially, she got her dishes measured in order to make wire compartments. They were then placed inside a wheel that laid flat within a copper boiler. Hot and soapy water from the bottom of the boiler poured down on the dishes as the wheel was activated by a motor, and amazingly washed off all the dirt.
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons
The automatic roti maker
Another significant invention that many do not know is from a woman is the automatic roti maker (aka the Rotimatic).
Before the time of the Rotimatic, many South Asian women were often found stuck at the stove making their traditional flatbreads while their family enjoyed the meal. Having witnessed how unnecessarily burdensome and unfair that was, Pranoti Nagarkar – an engineer and a normal woman, alongside with her partners, decided to do something about it. And that is how the automatic roti maker was born, to the joy and appreciation of women. It helps mix the flour, water, and oil, create a ball of dough, move it into the baking apparatus, flatten it, allow the built-up steam to puff it up, flatten and bake it again, and then push it out.
The machine is still doing a great job liberating women from the “tyranny” of the stove until this day.
The hand-cranked ice cream maker
We all love ice cream. But not many of us know that the first hand-cranked ice cream maker was invented by a woman named Nancy Johnson in 1943.
Prior to this genius mechanical creation, people had made ice cream in a labor-intensive way, in which they used hands with much effort to agitate the mixture of ingredients from a bucket full of ice. Breaking the mechanism of such old method, Nancy came up with a “renovation” of the current machine with a crank on the outside, connected by meshed gears to a rotating paddle – the dasher – on the inside. The dasher transferred the ingredients from the edge of the freezer to the center and back again, bringing us our frozen-and-ready-to-eat ice cream when the process was done.
The foot-pedal trash can
A brilliant industrial psychologist, engineer, and mother of 12 – Lillian Gilbreth brought to life ingenious inventions , one of which is the foot-pedal trash can we are using today. With a keen insight of people’s daily behaviors, she came up with an unsophisticated but useful household appliance that improved everyone’s life. Ever since its creation, the foot-pedal trash can has played a crucial role, bringing comfort and convenience to the process of throwing out trash.
The flat-bottom paper bag making machine
We may take paper bags for granted, but we just can’t deny their role in our lives. And how Margaret Knight – a cotton mill worker made it easier for us to attain such bag has forever amazed everyone about what a woman could do. Paper bags used to be made by hands, but after 1867, we were able to use flat-bottom bags from a machine created by Margaret during her time at the Columbia Paper Bag Company. Not only it helped optimize the manufacturing process, but also advance convenience in daily life.
Photo source: Pexels
Natalie Ellis is the co-founder of HealthyKitchen101 . With a passion to make balanced homemade meals an easier choice than fast foods for everyone, Natalie loves sharing her cooking tips, easy healthy recipes, as well as her reviews of smart kitchen tools to turn the odd jobs into a bliss for the busy home cooks. Follow Natalie on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.