In case you weren’t aware, March is Women’s History Month. As a product created by and a brand founded by women who built a majority-female team, we’d be remiss if we didn’t celebrate. Women have done extraordinary things over the years, but many have not gotten the credit they deserve. Remember the movie Big Eyes (which is also a true story) where Amy Adams’ character is a brilliant artist whose husband takes credit for her work? That’s one of many, many true stories about women’s work being glossed over or not given credit.
In honor of this month, we’re sharing some well-known products that few people realize were created by women or women had an important role in. Meet your new sheroes.
Yep, PiperWai’s existence (and the entire deodorant industry) can thank Edna Murphey, creator of Odorono deodorant. The formula was created by a male surgeon to manage sweat, but it was Edna (who was in high school at the time!) who saw a huge opportunity. Soon Odorono entered the market in 1912 as a solution for sweat. Odorono wasn’t the first deodorant, though. An unknown inventor launched Mum in 1888. Just like us, Mum was created in Philadelphia and the first version of the product came in a jar. But nothing changed hygiene like Odorono. At the time, most people didn’t think they needed odor protection, until Odorono created a scathing ad that preyed on insecurities. The company grew more than 100 percent after the ad debuted. You can read more about the history of deodorant and its evolution to what we know today in our blog.
The next time you have a close call that was thwarted by Kevlar, be sure to think of Stephanie Kwolek for her contribution to safety. Intended for tires, Kwolek invented Kevlar in 1965, but found the super-tough fiber can be used for much more. A chemist at DuPont Company in Deleware, Kwolek’s liquid crystalline polymer solution is five times stronger than steel and resistant to corrosion and flames. Her invention changed the way we use safety equipment, from bulletproof vests, gloves, clothing, combat helmets and even suspension bridge cables.
It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t played Monopoly. The board game has been ingrained in our culture since its debut in 1935 – but that’s not when it was invented. Lizzie Magie created the first version of Monopoly – called Landlord’s Game – in 1903 to educate people on economist Henry George’s single-tax theory. In fact, the game was created to protest monopolists. But when the 1930s came around, the Parker Brothers took her idea and marketed her game, using the story that they were the ones who created it in their basement. Lizzie only received $500 from her invention, but it’s said she spent more on that in lawyer and patent fees. (Infuriating, we know.) In addition to creating what we know today as Monopoly, Lizzie was also a talented writer and actress.
The reason you’re reading this blog right now is because of Grace Hopper’s contributions to computer science. In 1944, she worked on the team that created and programmed Harvard University's Mark I computer, which was used toward the end of World War II. Five years later, she joined Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that created the UNIVAC I computer, the first to officially go on the market. The team's computer, however, was in no way like the ones today. Theirs weighed 16,686 pounds and was primarily used for the United States government, including the Census Bureau and the Air Force. Later in her career, she pioneered groundbreaking data-processing language, FLOW-MATIC and MATH-MATIC. Fun fact: The UNIVAC I successfully predicted Dwight D. Eisenhower to win the presidential election.
Chocolate chip cookies (hell yeah)
Can you imagine life before chocolate chip cookies? We don't even want to entertain this notion, it's just too depressing. Luckily, Ruth Wakefield made all our cookie dreams come true in 1938, when she invented chocolate chip cookies. Ruth worked as a dietician and food lecturer before she purchased the Toll House Inn with her husband in 1930. It was up to Ruth to create and cook the recipes the inn served to it guests. Her food expertise made the Toll House Inn a popular spot in Plymouth County. Like any good creative mind, Ruth wanted to switch things up for her patrons. She took semi-sweet chocolate and broke it up into bits. Semi-sweet chocolate doesn't melt the same way milk chocolate does, so the chips in the cookies stayed intact. Thus, the chocolate chip cookie was born!
Ah, the ability to screen phone calls. A gift given to us by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson (not the goth-horror queen, the telecommunications queen). Dr. Shirley was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Technological Institute (MIT), the second to earn a doctorate in physics, the first to be awarded the National Medal of Science and first to serve as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee. She used her physics expertise at Bell Laboratories, joining the company in 1976. Because she's such a badass, Dr. Shirley didn't just contribute to caller ID technology. Her research was a catalyst for the portable fax, touch-tone telephones, fiber optic cables, call waiting and solar cells.