Mary Anderson

She received a patent for her “window cleaning device” in 1903. Within about a decade, the windshield wiper would become standard equipment on American cars. Hers was operated via a lever inside the vehicle.

Virginia Apgar

Baby’s first test is named after this physician. Her simple evaluation of a newborn’s condition, first published in 1953, checks a new baby’s “appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration” at one minute and five minutes after birth.

Maria Telkes

This University of Delaware scientist, known as the “Sun Queen,” designed innovative technology for Solar One, UD’s experimental solar-powered house. She was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2012.

Stephanie Kwolek

While a chemist at DuPont, this Delaware resident invented Kevlar, the strong-as-steel synthetic fiber used in tires to bullet-proof vests. Police officers and other members of a Kevlar Survivors’ Club tell how this novel fiber saved their lives.

Sarah Goode

A former slave, she moved to Chicago after the Civil War to open a furniture store. The cabinet bed she invented looked like a desk when folded up. It was designed to maximize the space in small rooms. She was the first African American woman to receive a U.S. patent. Hers was granted on July 14, 1885.

Hedy Lamarr

A Hollywood star, once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world,” she co-invented “frequency hopping,” a technology originally designed to guide torpedoes in WWII and now used in wireless phones, GPS and military communications.

Gertrude Belle Elion

This Nobel laureate developed drugs for treating leukemia, gout, malaria, meningitis and viral herpes, as well as the first immno-suppressive drug used for organ transplants. She was the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Sarah Blakeley

In 2012, at the age of 41,
she became the youngest woman to be named to
the Forbes World’s Billionaires list. The self-made entrepreneur invented Spanx, a popular line of comfortable, body-conforming undergarments.

Patsy Sherman

The accidental spill of a chemical on a tennis shoe in a lab at 3M Company led to the invention of Scotchguard® by this inventor and her collaborator. The product repels stains and allows for the removal of oily stains from synthetic fabrics.

Mary Dixon Kies

In 1809, she received the first U.S. patent awarded to a woman. It was for a process for weaving straw with silk or thread used in hat making. First Lady Dolley Madison praised her for boosting the economy at a time when European goods were embargoed in the U.S.

1 — Virginia Apgar

2 — Mary Anderson

3 — Sarah Blakeley

4 — Hedy Lamarr

5 — Gertrude Belle Elion

6 — Stephanie Kwolek

7 — Sarah Goode

8 — Mary Dixon Kies

9 — Maria Telkes

10 — Patsy Sherman

Answer Key



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Test your knowledge

The first U.S. patent granted to a woman was in 1809 for a new process for making straw hats and bonnets. Since then, women have patented thousands of inventions, from the wringer washer to cancer-fighting drugs. Can you correctly match
the inventor to her picture or invention?





Inventor ___________________

Inventor ___________________


Inventor ___________________

Inventor ___________________





Take the