National Women’s History Month

By Jan Norwood

Perfect Harmony

What began in Sonoma County, California as Women’s History Week in 1978 to acknowledge the contributions of women to history, has evolved into Women’s History Month. After many years of lobbying, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month. It is a time to honor the achievements of all American women. (Editors, 2022) Let us take some time to look at some ways women have contributed to make our lives better every day.

From sleepovers to conference meetings, chocolate chip cookies can make any gathering just a little bit sweeter. To think they almost didn’t exist! Chocolate chip cookies were the accidental creation of Ruth Graves Wakefield. In 1930, Wakefield forgot to add baker’s chocolate to a batch of pecan drop cookies. To correct her mistake, she cut up a chocolate bar and added it to the dough in hopes that the chocolate would spread throughout the cookies as they baked. The cookies didn’t turn out like she wanted, but the people at her inn loved them.  The Wakefields owned the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. With her mistake, the Toll House cookie was born. (Kelly, 2022)

We can thank several women for inventions that have improved our lives in our homes. Florence Parpart patented the electric refrigerator in 1914. (Duncan, 2018) The patent for the electric water heater was awarded to Ida Forbes in 1917. (Duncan, 2018) Josephine Garis Cochran wanted to find a better way to do the dishes. She designed and built her own dishwasher in 1886. (Pimentel, 2018) Mary Van Brittan Brown, an African American nurse, invented a security system for her home in 1966. Melitta Bentz didn’t like the bitter taste of coffee or coffee grounds in her cup. She took a sheet of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook, punched holes into a copper pot, and placed the paper into the pot. Her idea of a pour over worked, and her coffee filter business began in 1908.

Our vehicles have also been outfitted with inventions by women. Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers in 1903 after watching trolley drivers stick their heads out of the trolley to clean the windshield. (Duncan, 2018) The automobile heater was patented by Margaret Wilcox, an engineer from Chicago in 1893. (Pimentel, 2018) We have Katharine Burr Blodgett, a chemist at General Electric Laboratory, to thank for the non-reflective glass used for windshields and other items such as computer screens, eyeglasses, and any lens that need invisible glass. (Roberts, 2014)

Plato is quoted as saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” We are rather grateful for these ladies for being the mothers of their inventions and their contributions to history. To celebrate National Women’s History Month, let us work with organizations such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) or the National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO) to identify and partner with current women owned businesses. Let us continue to support women as a driving force for our economy!

Resources

Duncan, J. (2018, December 2018). Ten Extremely Important Things That Were Invented by Women. Retrieved from Listverse: https://listverse.com/2018/12/06/10-extremely-important-things-that-were-invented-by-women/

Editors, H. (2022, February 23). Women’s History Month 2022. Retrieved from History: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month

Kelly, K. (2022, March 6). America Comes Alive! Retrieved from Chocolate Chip Cookie Inventor: Ruth Wakefield: www.americacomesalive.com

Morgan, T. (2022, January 19). 8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier. Retrieved from History: https://www.history.com/news/8-black-inventors-african-american

Moses, C. (2018, September 5). The New York Times. Retrieved from Obituaries: Overlooked No More: Melitta Bentz, Who Invented the Coffee Filter: www.nytimes.com

Pimentel, C. (2018, June 26). Entity. Retrieved from 15 Inventions by Women Your Didn't Know Changed Our Lives: https://www.entitymag.com/women-inventions/

Roberts, J. (2014, May 3). The Invisible Woman. Retrieved from Science History Institute: https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/the-invisible-woman