Ada Lovelace Day

Blog

Lovelace, Politics, Tech

by maria on 24.03.2009 - 13:42  

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It has become obvious that women need to see female role models, in order to persevere and thrive in male-dominated fields. So, Suw Charman-Anderson announced that she would post a blog if 1000 other people also promised to post a blog about a woman they admire who has excelled in technology. She is calling it Ada Lovelace Day in honor of one of the world's first computer programmers.

So, I signed the pledge, and talked to my daughter Tanika about it. She told me that a woman invented the dishwasher, which I did not know, and recommended I look into that. Josephine Cochrane did invent the first workable mechanical machine to wash dishes. Apparently she had grown tired of her servants breaking her dishes, and is quoted to have said, "If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I'll do it myself." I love it. She designed a wheel that set inside a copper boiler, and held several different compartments made of wire to hold different types of dishes. A motor turned the wheel and pumped hot soapy water from the bottom of the boiler. I love the image I have in my head of her in the early 1880's at work in the shed behind her house, hammering pieces of hardware to a copper wash-boiler. She received a patent for it in 1886, and founded the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Company to produce it, which later became the KitchenAid part of the Whirlpool Corporation. Another great quote: “Women are inventive, the common opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. You see, we are not given a mechanical education, and that is a great handicap. It was to me—not in the way you suppose, however. I couldn’t get men to do the things I wanted in my way until they had tried and failed in their own. And that was costly for me. They knew I knew nothing, academically, about mechanics, and they insisted on having their own way with my invention until they convinced themselves my way was the better, no matter how I had arrived at it.” Things were definitely difficult for women in the late 19th century, both as inventors and business owners, and she should be applauded as much for her bravery in getting into business as she was for the invention itself. Another quote, regarding the first sale she made, to a large hotel in Chicago, “You asked me what was the hardest part of getting into business,” Mrs. Cochrane recalled for the reporter for the Record-Herald. “That was almost the hardest thing I ever did, I think, crossing the great lobby of the Sherman House alone. You cannot imagine what it was like in those days, twenty-five years ago, for a woman to cross a hotel lobby alone. I had never been anywhere without my husband or father —the lobby seemed a mile wide. I thought I should faint at every step, but I didn’t—and I got an $800 order as my reward.”

picture and some background from Hall of Fame inventor profile
other sources:
American Heritage Profile
University of Houston profile


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