Cover image for Patently female : from AZT to TV dinners : stories of women inventors and their breakthrough ideas
Patently female : from AZT to TV dinners : stories of women inventors and their breakthrough ideas
Vare, Ethlie Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Wiley, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 220 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library T36 .V38 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Discover the trials & triumphs of great female inventors

Automatic Dishwasher
Barbie Doll
Buffered Aspirin
Cotton Gin
Disposable Phone
Drip Coffeemaker
Fabric Softener Sheets
Hang Glider
IV Fluids
Mars Rover
PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
Protease Inhibitors
Smallpox Variolation
Space Suit
Spic & Span
Tract Housing
Vacuum Canning
Windshield Wipers
Zig-Zag Sewing Machine

and many, many more!

Reviews for Mothers of Invention by Ethlie Ann Vare and Greg Ptacek

"It′s a fascinating and gratifying book..It gives us a positive view of women′s inventiveness, from the frivolous to the noble."
-The New York Times Book Review

"It is the wide spectrum of female humanity and ability in this book that makes it an especially valuable addition to the growing popular library on the accomplishments and work lives of women."
-Los Angeles Times

"An informative collection of talent, trivia, and history, Mothers of Invention will interest most anyone. More importantly, though, it will serve to inspire girls and women of all ages. For that reason, it belongs on the shelves of schools and public libraries everywhere."
-Tampa Tribune

"Wonderful..A book to be dipped into and sampled at one′s leisure."
-The Chicago Biweekly

"This fascinating volume will find a place in the browsing sections of both adult and YA collections.recommended."
-Library Journal

One of the "Best Books for Young Adults,"
American Library Association, 1988

Author Notes

ETHLIE ANN VARE is a journalist and screenwriter who lectures frequently at colleges and universities around the United States.

GREG PTACEK is a writer, marketing consultant, and independent producer based in Los Angeles.
They received the American Library Association Award for their previous book about women inventors, Mothers of Invention: From the Bra to the Bomb, Forgotten Women and Their Unforgettable Ideas.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Three upbeat new books profile inventors both famous and little known and celebrate once-momentous, now-commonplace innovations. Brown introduces 35 practitioners of American ingenuity in this peppy survey, neatly profiling inventors in the fields of medicine, consumer products, transportation, energy, computing, and telecommunications. Shared traits include a preternatural attention to detail, a gift for following up on "serendipitous flashes," gumption, and the ability to withstand ridicule and ruthless competition, the latter acknowledged in Raymond Damadian's name for the first MRI machine: Indomitable. Another example of the truth Brown reveals--that behind every invention, there's a story of inspiration, hard work, and luck--is found in the profile of Garrett Morgan. The son of former slaves, he confronted racism to bring his inventions to fruition, a prototype for the gas mask and the first traffic signal. Ierley, author of The Comforts of Home (1999), an overview of household technologies, writes with zest about the "original impact" of modern technology as he offers pithy, illuminating discussions of Americans' initial reactions to the railroad, the telephone, the typewriter, and its descendant almost exactly a century later, the personal computer, and the world of images, from photography to television. The most enjoyable aspect of his insightful overview is his impressive fluency in technology coverage in newspapers and popular magazines, advertisements and owner's manuals, and even private letters and journals. Ierley also scrutinizes children's toys and books to assess the assimilation of various machines, and marvels at our "mastering of complexity," the ability to rapidly learn and employ new technology-driven skills. Like Brown, Vare and Ptacek are much enamored of inventors and their amazing stories of perseverance. An informal sequel to Mothers of Invention (1988), Patently Female records some improvement in the recognition of women innovators, a development they're determined to encourage, and their conviction infuses their book with energy and pride. Women have always been inventors by necessity, as evident in the tales of secretary and single mom Bessie Nesmith, who gave the world liquid paper (and a rock star), and Mary Anderson, the inventor of the windshield wiper. And onward they march, the clever and resilient women inventors of Scotchguard, Lactaid, the first computer language, the first library database, chemotherapy, AZT, the Mars rover (named the Sojourner Truth), the bra, Barbie, and many more. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

In their sequel to Mothers of Invention, Vare and Ptacek explore female innovators a role history has often failed to record, let alone reward. The first U.S. patent was awarded to a woman, Hannah Slater, in 1793, for perfecting cotton sewing thread. But the authors quickly demonstrate that women's inventions aren't limited to the home. Both the brassiere and the jockstrap were invented by women. Can't do without that cordless phone? Thank Terri Pall. Interested in voting reforms? Susan Huhn invented the most reliable and mobile voting machine. The brilliance of physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking is transmitted through computer technology invented by Martine Kempf, Leslie Dolman and Carrie Heeter. And Hawking studies the universe in good company: Jocelyn Bell discovered the pulsar, and women invented the Mars rover and the space suit. Dr. Gertrude Elion's immunosuppressants make lifesaving transplants possible, including bone marrow transplants, which were Dr. Suzanne Ilstaad's revolutionary treatment for end-stage cancers and anemias. The major AIDS-fighting drugs, AZT and protease inhibitors, were also invented by women. Of course, not all women's inventions are so dramatic witness the TV dinner, Jell-O, tract housing and Barbie. Vare and Ptacek detail how women's ideas like the cotton gin, automatic sewing machine and even the Brooklyn Bridge have often been attributed to men and how history books and museums like the Smithsonian and the National Inventors Hall of Fame have ignored women's achievements. The book's lighthearted, colloquial style makes it ideal for classrooms, but the lack of specific years for many of the inventions is irksome. Photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Ruth HandlerJanet L. Rideout, Ph.D.
Forewordp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Practicalitiesp. 5
Chapter 2 "Woman's Work"p. 37
Chapter 3 Computer Liberationp. 59
Chapter 4 Medicinep. 89
Chapter 5 Mother Earthp. 115
Chapter 6 It Took a Womanp. 133
Chapter 7 Women in Spacep. 151
Chapter 8 Fun and Gamesp. 169
Chapter 9 The Littlest Inventorsp. 177
Chapter 10 Pathfinders and Forerunnersp. 189
Timeline: A More Complete Chronology of Inventionp. 197
Appendix A Joining the Ranksp. 201
Appendix B Resourcesp. 205
Indexp. 209

Google Preview