On 8 March, millions of women from around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day and here at Shanghai Sunrise we will be right alongside them. Whilst China leads the world in providing opportunities for women in many ways, women in China still face a complex situation regarding their aspirations, actual roles and society’s expectations of them. There is an underlying tone of inequality in society that is particularly pervasive amongst the less-advantaged communities.
Since 2011, 60% of the students we have supported have been female and we still encounter gender bias when it comes to education. We continue to work with the local government and social workers to support equal access to quality education for all, regardless of gender.
To quote Melanne Verveer, the first U.S. Ambassador for Women’s Global Issues, “Women are the most effective investment that can be made in terms of development…Women’s progress in any place is progress for our world.”
To mark this important occasion, we chose to celebrate IWD by asking our volunteers to think about some of the modern-day conveniences created by innovative, forward-thinking women. Without further ado, here is our shortlist of creations developed by the unsung women who helped to change our world for the better.
The Team at Shanghai Sunrise
1. The Car Heater
We all owe our thanks to Margaret A Wilcox who invented the car heater in 1893! (Margaret also invented a combined clothes and dishwasher).
This popular board game was designed by Elizabeth Magie in 1904, originally called the Landlord’s Game. The purpose of this game was to expose the injustices of unchecked capitalism. Her game was ripped off by Charles Darrow who sold it to Parker Brothers 30 years later. However Parker Brothers later paid Elizabeth $500 for her game. Gee Thanks!
3. The Fire Escape
The fire escape was invented by Anna Connelly in 1887.
4. The Life Raft
The lifesaving Life Raft was invented by Maria Beasely in 1882. (Maria also invented a machine that makes barrels).
5. Residential Solar Heating
Solar heating for residential housing was invented by Dr Maria Telkes in 1947. Dr. Telkes was a Psychiatrist in addition to being a Solar-Power Pioneer.
6. The Medical Syringe
The medical syringe which could be operated with only one hand was invented by a woman by the name of Letitia Geer in 1899.
7. The Modern Electric Refrigerator
The electric refrigerator was invented by Florence Parpart in 1914 (Florence also invented an improved street cleaning machine in addition to the refrigerator).
8. The Ice Cream Maker
The ice cream maker was invented by a woman named Nancy Johnson in 1843. Her patented design is still used today!
9. The Computer Algorithm
Ada Lovelace is essentially the first computer programmer due to her work with Charles Babbage at the University of London in 1842. In fact her notes were an essential key to helping Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.
10. Telecommunications Technology
Some of the Telecommunication Technology developed by Dr Shirley Jackson include portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fibre optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.
11. The Dishwasher
The Dishwasher was invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1887. Before her time, she even marketed her machine to hotel owners and even opened her own factory without the help of a man!
12. Wireless Transmission Technology
Hedy Lamarr, a world famous film star, invented a secret communications system during World War II for radio-controlling torpedoes. This Technology also paved the way for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS.
13. Closed-Circuit Television Security (CCTV)
Marie Van Brittan Brown invented CCTV because of the slow response of police officers in 1969 to help people ensure their own security. This invention influenced modern CCTV systems used for home security and police work today.
14. The Modern Paper Bag
Margaret Knight invented a machine that makes square bottomed paper bags in 1871. She almost didn’t get credit when Charles Anan tried to steal her work claiming that it wasn’t possible for a woman to create this brilliant invention. (Margaret also invented a safety device for cotton mills when she was 12… that invention is still being used today).
15. Central Heating
Although Alice Parker’s invention in 1919 of a gas powered central heater was never manufactured, her idea was the first that allowed for using natural gas to heat a home, inspiring the central heating systems used today.
This life-saving material that is 5 times stronger than steel and used to make bulletproof vests was invented in 1965 by Stephanie Kwolek.
17. Computer Software
Dr Grace Murray Hopper was a computer scientist that invented COBOL which is the first user-friendly business computer software system in the 1940’s. She was also a rear admiral in the U.S. navy and the first person to use the term “bug” in reference to a glitch in a computer system when she literally found a bug (moth) causing problems with her computer.
According to Beer Historian Jane Peyton Mesopotamian women were the first to develop, sell, and even drink beer.
We hope you enjoyed this post. This is just a small sample of the many incredible women who have impacted our lives – please let us know who inspired you by commenting down below!
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