Gender Inequality

Not everything is ‘man-made’: 13 amazing inventions you can thank women for

We have liftoff! Satellite propulsion is just one of many women-made inventions Image: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Stéphanie Thomson
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Gender Inequality

If you were asked to name a famous inventor, who would pop into your head? Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell? Formidable men who gave us everything from bifocals to electric lightbulbs.

How about if you were asked to think of a woman inventor? To celebrate International Women’s Day and mark the start of women’s history month, Microsoft put that exact question to a group of budding young female scientists. The answer? “That’s kind of a tough one.”


The problem is not that there aren’t any female inventors: it’s that we just don’t hear about them. “In school it was always male inventors,” one girl explains to the camera. But as the technology company goes on to show, women can be just as creative and enterprising. In fact, women are behind dozens of so-called “man-made” inventions, from the circular saw and the signal flare to windshield wipers and life-saving drugs.

It’s long been argued that role models – examples of women who have made it to the top of the political, business or academic world – are key to achieving gender equality. The girls in Microsoft’s video seem to agree: “It gives me motivation that I can invent something,” one student said. “I can be a change in the world. And that would be really cool.”

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