10 Black Women Inventors Who Have Changed Your Life

PushBlack

It’s no secret that Black people patented inventions for many of our modern conveniences. All you have to do is look around you during your daily commute to see the impact that Black Americans have had on the very operations of American society.

The traffic light, the gas mask, the light bulb that actually stayed lit for a substantial amount of time, the shoe, the mailbox, the potato chip, and more. We did that. All of that.

But there are some inventors that deserve even more acknowledgment and celebration: Black women. That’s why PushBlack has curated this list of seven Black woman inventors - of both contemporary and past times - who have changed the game and should be forever celebrated.

1. Sara Goode

Sarah Goode was the first Black woman to receive a patent (1885). Her invention preceded the sofa bed and consisted of a folding bed that collapsed into a desk.


2. Janet Emerson Bashen

Janet Emerson Bashen is the first Black woman to hold a patent for a software invention. LinkLine organizes and simplifies intake and tracking, claims management, document management and other reports. Thanks to Ms. Bashen, companies can more efficiently and effectively run their operations.


3. Dr. Patricia Bath

Dr. Patricia Bath: An alumna of Howard University, Dr. Bath holds three patents - one being the device used for laser cataract surgery. The Laserphaco Probe provides a less invasive and safer method for removing cataracts and has allowed for groundbreaking surgeries across the globe. She’s the first Black female doctor to hold a medical patent and she’s literally made the blind, see.


4. Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson innovated the telecommunications industry by contributing to the inventions of the touchtone phone, portable fax, caller ID, call-waiting and the fiber-optic cable. She is also the first African American woman to earn a doctorate at MIT in nuclear physics. All cell phone users better say thank you, Ms. Jackson!


5. Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown patented the first closed circuit TV security system in 1996. Then, along with her husband, the two invented the first home security system to utilize television surveillance. But that wasn’t all -- Ms. Brown also created a remote control that’s able to unlock doors. Millions of people can thank her for keeping their homes safe - whether they remember to lock the door or not.


6. Ruane Sharon Jeter

Ruane Sharon Jeter was awarded the patent for creating a toaster. And, along with her power sister Shelia Lynn Jeter, the two created multiple products including the stapler, staple remover and sheathed scissors So, thank the Jeters for your morning breakfast and the office supplies that make the day just a little bit easier.


7. Alice Parker

Alice Parker was issued the patent for improving the heating furnace. Though she did not invent the original furnace, her discovery allowed for us to have central heat -- a feature in most modern American homes today. So in those chilly winter months, you better send some thanks up to Ms. Parker!


8. Miriam Benjamin

Miriam Benjamin was the second Black woman to receive a patent in 1888. Her invention consisted of a light-up chair, originally used in hotels to notify wait staff when patrons wanted service. However, this technology has since been adapted to airplanes and the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a powerful and impactful tool and Ms. Benjamin created it!


9. Lyda Newman

You can thank Lyda Newman for laying those edges. In true #BlackGirlMagic fashion, Lyda patented an improved model of the hairbrush in 1898. This brush improved both the efficiency and hygiene of earlier models, included evenly spaced rows of bristles, open slots to gudie debris, and even a component in the back to allow for cleaning with ease.


10. Marjorie Stewart-Joyner’s

And since we’re on the subject of hair, Marjorie Stewart-Joyner’s invention of the permanent hair-wave machine “added curl to straight hair and could be used to straighten curly hair.” Stewart-Joyner designed the invention while working in her own shop - where she hoped to speed up the curling process to better serve her clientele. Stewart-Joyner, who later became an employee of Madame C.J. Walker’s company, was also active in her community and co-founded an association for beauty school owners and teachers (Alpha Chi Pi Omega) with her friend, Mary McLeod Bethune.

CLICK and SWIPE the photos to learn more about these amazing women

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please donate now?

Donate Now

Share This Article: