Nine Awesome Women who Defied Gender Roles with their Inventions

Throughout history, women were (and unfortunately still are) seen stereotypically as the “weaker gender” -- the ones who were best put to use cleaning kitchens and taking care of their children, the ones who should dedicate their time to pleasing the husbands who “owned” them, and, most of all, the ones who were too “fragile” and “vulnerable” to be associated with the terms “tough,” “strong,” and “brave.” These words were far too “masculine” for a woman of the time, right?

It turns out that many essential items considered to be the pinnacle of “manliness” during the 1800’s and 1900’s were actually designed and/or created by women. In honor of the International Day of the Girl, here are some amazing ideas brought to life by women, even if the products they made were considered too “masculine” or “smart” to be created by one… as if sexism ever stopped these powerful inventors.


Chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, a bulletproof material that is five times stronger than steel, by accident in 1966.

Marine signal flares

After finding sketches created by her late spouse that described the concept of signal flares, Martha Costen worked for ten years to create a working model. Most credit for the invention went to her husband in 1859 even though Martha did the majority of the work.

Circular saw (for woodworking)

Like Costen, Tabitha Babbit didn’t receive the all of the credit she deserved after inventing the circular saw for woodworking in 1813. Babbit, who worked as a weaver, thought of the design and built a prototype that she connected to her spinning wheel. Over time, her design was developed into the electric saws used today (as shown above).

Marine lamp & telescope

Sarah Mather patented the Marine Lamp and Telescope in 1845. Very little is known about the process by which she created it.

Invisible glass

Katharine Blodgett, the first female scientist to work at General Electric, created invisible glass in 1935. This special material is completely transparent, like typical glass, but has no distortion or glare.

Computer hardware & software