Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough Ideas

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Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough Ideas

Ethlie Ann Vare and Greg Ptacek Vare

In their sequel to Mothers of Invention, Vare and Ptacek explore female innovators a role history has often failed to record, let alone reward. The first U.S. patent was awarded to a woman, Hannah Slater, in 1793, for perfecting cotton sewing thread. But the authors quickly demonstrate that women's inventions aren't limited to the home. Both the brassiere and the jockstrap were invented by women. Can't do without that cordless phone? Thank Terri Pall. Interested in voting reforms? Susan Huhn invented the most reliable and mobile voting machine. The brilliance of physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking is transmitted through computer technology invented by Martine Kempf, Leslie Dolman and Carrie Heeter. And Hawking studies the universe in good company: Jocelyn Bell discovered the pulsar, and women invented the Mars rover and the space suit. Dr. Gertrude Elion's immunosuppressants make lifesaving transplants possible, including bone marrow transplants, which were Dr. Suzanne Ilstaad's revolutionary treatment for end-stage cancers and anemias. The major AIDS-fighting drugs, AZT and protease inhibitors, were also invented by women. Of course, not all women's inventions are so dramatic witness the TV dinner, Jell-O, tract housing and Barbie. Vare and Ptacek detail how women's ideas like the cotton gin, automatic sewing machine and even the Brooklyn Bridge have often been attributed to men and how history books and museums like the Smithsonian and the National Inventors Hall of Fame have ignored women's achievements. The book's lighthearted, colloquial style makes it ideal for classrooms, but the lack of specific years for many of the inventions is irksome. Photos.

 

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