Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Amazing Stories of Women and Their Breakthrough Inventions
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More About This Title Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Amazing Stories of Women and Their Breakthrough Inventions


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


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.


Foreword by Ruth Handler, Inventor of the Barbie Doll.

Preface by Janet L. Rideout, Ph.D., Patented the AIDS-Fighting Drug AZT.



CHAPTER 1. Practicalities.

CHAPTER 2. Woman s Work .

CHAPTER 3. Computer Liberation.

CHAPTER 4. Medicine.

CHAPTER 5. Mother Earth.

CHAPTER 6. It Took a Woman.

CHAPTER 7. Women in Space.

CHAPTER 8. Fun and Games.

CHAPTER 9. The Littlest Inventors.

CHAPTER 10. Pathfinders and Forerunners.

Timeline: A More Complete Chronology of Invention.

APPENDIX A: Joining the Ranks.

APPENDIX B: Resources.



"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 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 musums 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." (Publishers Weekly, 10/29/01)

"...Vare and Ptacek have a knack for choosing acencdotes that bring the inventor's trials and triumphs to life..." (Associated Press, 15 April 2002)

"...this is rather a fascinating little book...conclusion: interesting, fascinating and a general good companion and conversation piece..." (M2 Communications, 26 April 2002)

"The authors show how the products of female ingenuity are often those we can't imagine doing without... Each woman's story is inspiring in and of itself, but Vare ad Ptacek have a knack for choosing anecdotes that bring the inventor's trials and triumphs to life for the reader."(Associated Press)

" the book insightfully and entertainingly portrays the history of women inventors and their inventions "(Chemistry & Industry, 15 October 2002)