Women Inventors in Manufacturing

For Women’s History Month, we offer a few of the most important female inventors in manufacturing!

Ada Lovelace

The daughter of Lord Byron, Lovelace is credited with developing the first computer program. While her algorithm for calculating Bernoulli numbers was strictly mathematical, she is also recognized as the person who first theorized that a computer could be used for real-world applications beyond mere calculation. She worked with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, the first computer.

While Lovelace did not manufacture anything, her work was certainly the foundation for much of the science and technology on which modern manufacturing rests.

Margaret Knight

Margaret Knight held 30 patents during her lifetime, but may be best known for coming up with a machine for cutting, folding, and assembling the flat-bottomed paper bags we still use today.  She also invented rotary engines, devices for making shoes, a safety feature for a mechanical loom, and a variety of practical household machinery. Knight had to fight for recognition and even went to court to defend her patent on the paper bag making machine. She was disappointed that she had not been able to gain the educational attainments she wanted, and could have had if she had been male.

Beulah Louise Henry

Beulah Louise Henry was known as “Lady Edison” in recognition of the many practical inventions she created. These included a bobbin-less sewing machine, a type of sewing machine still used in factories today. She developed several different valves, an ice cream freezer, a typewriter and a device for making multiple copies of pages, and a number of toys and household goods.

Henry was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.