Top Overlooked Women in History


Anabella Nutcher (she/her), Staff Writer

Throughout history, there have been many women who have helped the advancement of technology and improve the world that has been overlooked. From women inventors to politicians, so many important women have gotten forgotten throughout history. There are so many things used every day that most people don’t know were originally from the minds of women.

  • Florence Parpart

Florence Parpart did many things with her life, but the biggest thing she did was she invented the modern electric refrigerator. With a little help from her husband, who was an expert in electrical circuitry, Parpart made the first prototype for what turned into our modern refrigerator in 1914 and then turned it into a successful business where she marketed and sold her new refrigerator design. But even before then, she was successful in her design of an improved street-cleaning machine which she received a patent for. So when you store food in your refrigerator, you can thank Florence Parpart for the design.

  • Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system. As a black woman living in Queens, New York, Brown was always looking for ways to have better security for her home. What she came up with to help secure her home was peepholes in the door, a camera, monitors, a microphone, and an alarm button that could contact the police if she was in trouble. Brown applied for a patent for her invention in 1966 and it immediately gave her the recognition she deserved and became the foundation for modern-day security systems. Brown is the reason many people’s houses are a whole lot safer than they used to be.

  • Malala Yousafzai

With Malala Yousafzai making a recent appearance at the Oscars, people are starting to talk about her. When her school in Pakistan was invaded in 2008, Yousafzai started speaking up for the rights of girls’ education, which led to her getting shot at only 15 years old. Luckily, she survived and used the attention she got as a platform to fight for women’s rights to education, especially in rural towns such as the one she was from. Yousafzai became the youngest person and one of only a handful of women to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at only 17 years old.

  • Elizabeth Magie

What many people do not know is one of the most popular board games ever was made by a woman. Elizabeth Magie was the one who came up with the idea for Monopoly. Throughout her life, she was a women’s advocate and fought against the pressure for women to get married and started to make a board game showing her political beliefs. She called it the Landlord’s Game, and this became the first version of Monopoly. She created two versions, one which was anti-monopolist and one that was pro-monopolist to show how the anti-monopolist version was morally superior. She patented this game in 1904, but over 30 years later, in 1935, Charles Darrow made his own version of the game which was directly based on Magie’s game, and sold it to the Parker Brothers. He was the one who got the credit for the game that was created by Elizabeth Magie.

  • Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was an African American performer and dancer who used her platform to be a civil rights activist and fight against the Nazis. She was from the United States, but her act became very popular and in 1939, during World War II, she started performing in France. Baker was there for several years, and during that time, she would perform for the Nazis and pass on information to the French. Eventually, Baker moved back to the United States and there used her fame to only perform for more progressive clubs and audiences causing a lot of clubs to have to integrate if they wanted her to perform for them. This caused her to get recognized by the NAACP for her accomplishments. Josephine Baker was a queer, black icon who broke boundaries and challenged society to be better.

  • Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink was the first woman of color to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and introduced the Title IX bill. Mink was born in 1927 in Hawaii. Growing up she fought to have a good education and ended up attending the University of Chicago Law School after being rejected from medical school because she was a woman. She then went on to become the first woman of Asian-American descent to practice law in Hawaii. In 1956, Mink was elected to Hawaii’s House of Representatives and then in 1964, she became the first woman of color to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Asian-American in Congress. She then spent that time fighting discrimination against women and people of color, introducing the Title IX legislation to Congress where it was eventually passed and put into effect.

  • Ada Lovelace and Grace Murray Hopper

Ada Lovelace and Grace Murray Hopper were both crucial in computer programming and computers being the way they are now. Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 and is known as the world’s first computer programmer. Growing up, Lovelace studied mathematics and when she was 28, she published a translation of an article written about the Analytical Engine by Luigi Menabrea and heavily annotated it, and put in all the necessary calculations which became the first computer program.

Grace Murray Hopper (born in 1906) worked in the U.S. Army and was responsible for programming the Mark I, which was one of the first electromechanical computers and was one of the world’s first modern computer programmers. Hopper then went on to help develop the Mark II and III computers and also was the first person to use the term “bug” to refer to a computer problem. Throughout her life, she worked in the Army and was the oldest officer serving in the U.S. Armed Forces when she retired at the age of 79.

  • Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath invented laser cataract surgery. She specialized in ophthalmology, which is the study of eye care and eye disorders, and discovered that African Americans are twice as likely to go blind and develop eye diseases as other patients. So she saw eyesight as a basic human right and focused on making it more affordable to get eye surgery. Then in 1981, when Bath was 39, she started to invent the Laserphaco Probe which used laser technology and was an easier and less painful way for patients to get treatment for cataracts and helped restore the sight of many individuals who had gone blind.