A. Listen to a radio programme about inventions. Complete the sentences with the invention.

1   ____________ was invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1886.

2   ____________ were invented by Mary Anderson in 1903.

3   ____________ were invented by Marion Donovan in 1950.

4   ____________ was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham in 1956.

5   ____________ was invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1966.

B. Listen again and answer the questions.

1   What happened after Josephine Cochrane’s dinner parties?

2   What was the problem with cars in 1903 when it rained or snowed?

3   How many disposable nappies are used every day?

4   What was Bette Nesmith Graham’s job?

5   What was special about the material Stephanie Kwolek invented?



1 The dishwasher

2 Windscreen wipers

3 Disposable nappies

4 Tipp-Ex

5 The bullet-proof vest


1   Her servants used to break plates and glasses when they were doing the washing up.

2   It was impossible for drivers to see where they were going.

3   More than 55 million.

4   She was a secretary.

5   It was very light but incredibly strong (stronger than metal).


P = presenter, S = Sally

P   Good afternoon, and welcome to another edition of Science Today. In today’s programme we are going to hear about women inventors. When we think of famous inventors we usually think of men, people like Alexander Graham Bell, Guglielmo Marconi, Thomas Edison. But, as Sally will tell us, many of the things which make our lives easier today were invented by women.

S   That’s absolutely right. Let’s take the dishwasher for example. This was invented by a woman called Josephine Cochrane in 1886. She was a rich American who gave a lot of dinner parties. But she was annoyed that her servants used to break plates and glasses when they were washing them after the party. So, Josephine decided to try and invent a machine which could wash a lot of plates and glasses safely. Today the dishwasher is used by millions of people all over the world.

The car was invented by a man, but it was a woman, Mary Anderson, who in 1903 solved one of the biggest problems of driving. Until her invention it was impossible for drivers to see where they were going when it was raining or snowing. The name of her invention? Windscreen wipers.

A fantastic invention that definitely improved the lives of millions of people was disposable nappies. They were invented by a woman called Marion Donovan in 1950. Anybody who has a small baby will know what a big difference disposable nappies make to our lives. Today more than 55 million nappies are used every day in the world.

A few years later in 1956, Bette Nesmith Graham was working as a secretary. She used to get very frustrated and angry when she made typing mistakes. In those days if you made a mistake, you had to get a new sheet of paper and start again from the beginning. She had a brilliant idea, which was to use a white liquid to paint over mistakes. Her invention is called Tipp-Ex today. Mrs Graham was a divorced mother and her invention made her a very rich woman.

And finally … policeman, soldiers, and politicians all over the world are protected by something which was invented by a woman. In 1996 Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, a special material which was very light but incredibly strong, much stronger than metal. This material is used to make the bullet-proof vest. Her invention has probably saved thousands of lives.

P   Thanks very much, Sally. So … if you thought that everything was invented by men, think again.

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