How different would the world look without the great minds of female inventors?
It would be more difficult to drive in the rain without Mary Anderson’s invention of the windshield wiper in 1903, for one thing. Board games would be lacking without the invention of Monopoly by Elizabeth Magie, also in 1903. And the vast array of medical discoveries, treatments, and medicines discovered using stem cells may never have come about had Ann Tsukamoto not figured out a way to isolate stem cells in 1991.
Those are just some of the female inventors being celebrated during this year’s Women’s History Month, the annual celebration of heritage begun under President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Women are celebrated for a slew of other inventions, including beer, paper bags, chocolate chip cookies, and dishwashers, in a compilation put together by The Huffington Post.
But even Women’s History Month has an interesting history, according to TIME Magazine, which notes that the original celebration took place for just a single day – Women’s Day – beginning in 1909 to honor the garment workers’ strikes that had taken place a year earlier in New York when women demanded greater economic rights.
The yearly remembrance grew to a week-long celebration in 1978, was recognized by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and was expanded to a month by Congress in 1987. This year’s official theme is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”