The Woman Who Shaped The World: Influential Female Engineers (Part 1)

There has been a lot about female engineers in the news recently. With the Institute of Engineering and Technology appointing their very first female president, there has been a lot of emphasis put on introducing more women into the world of STEM subjects. She believes that failing to do so will harm the nation in the future.


However, woman have longed played an important part in the field of engineering. Despite this, they are often unheard of or forgotten about when discussing engineering achievements.

Do you know which important inventions were created by women? We’ve put together a guide to some of the most influential female engineers.

Mary Anderson (1866 – 1953)

Did you know that a woman was behind the invention of the windshield wiper? You do now! Mary Anderson was the genius behind this essential device that you probably take for granted when driving in your cars.

Whilst living in New York in 1903, Mary witnessed a driver leave his front window open so that he could clear some sleet that had fallen. This gave her the idea for the windshield wiper. She applied for and was granted her patent for it in November that year.

It expired before the windshield wiper really became a big thing, which came about with the boom of the automotive industry.

Martha J. Coston (1826 – 1904)

Martha was a 21 year old widow who was struggling to take care of her four children after the death of her husband. She knew she needed a better way to support her family, so set about to find a way to do so. She found a design in a notebook that her husband had done before he died and realised that she could get it to work.

She spent around 10 years redesigning, developing and testing her reworking of the designs, so that they included pyrotechnic components that could make an ongoing and colourful system of flares.

She was granted a patent in 1859, and the US Navy bought it off her for around $20,000 – although she did win the right to manufacture the device. Her system is credited as helping the North win the Civil War.

Emily Roebling (1803-1903)

Emily Roebling was the woman behind the creation of the Brooklyn Bridge. When her husband was suddenly paralyzed after an accident, Emily became the first woman field engineer and leader of the project. She was the woman in charge of the chief engineer’s duties, supervising the day to day running of the project and was the person in charge of the project management.

She taught herself in all areas of civil and construction engineering, so that she could communicate goals to the workmen and financiers.

When the project was finished, the American Society of Civil Engineers wanted to credit her husband as the head engineer. Emily protested and was rightly given the credit for her work on the bridge.

As you can see, women have and will hopefully continue to make a fantastic contribution to the field of engineering. We think it’s important that more woman take up STEM subjects, as the future of engineering depends on their involvement. Keep on checking back on our blog, as we will be revealing even more of these incredible and interesting women.

As for us here at European Springs & Pressings Ltd, we contribute to the engineering industry in our own special way. As compression, torsion and flat spring manufacturers, our products are used in major industrial environments throughout the UK and the world.

For more information, please contact us on 0208 663 1800 and a member of our team will be happy to help.

European Springs

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