Women's History Month: Featuring Mary Anderson

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Mary Anderson, Inventor of Wiper Blades

Did you know March is Women’s History Month? In 1987, Congress declared the very first “Women’s History Month,” and ever since each President has issued an annual proclamation so designating each March in order to celebrate the vital role of women in American history. This March, the WIN Lab is highlighting some incredible historical women founders on our blog .

Many of the best women founders created products that were solutions to common problems. It takes a truly entrepreneurial mind to utilize resources around her to create these solutions instead of just put up with the issues at hand. Enter Mary Anderson, the inventor of windshield wipers!

Although she was born in Alabama, on a trip to New York City Anderson noticed that when it rained, streetcar drivers opened the windows of their cars in order to the see the road ahead of them. To solve the problem, Anderson got to work and invented a swinging “arm” with a rubber blade that was patented in 1903; the blade was operated by the driver using a lever inside the car.

Despite the inventions ingenuity, many were skeptical of it at first because they thought the wipers would distract drivers. However, Anderson’s windshield wipers eventually were proven in the market and became a standard feature on most cars within 13 years of the patent. And how can we forget Charlotte Bridgwood who later improved Anderson’s invention with the automatic windshield wiper that she patented in 1917? Next time you’re driving in the rain or snow, you’ll never think about your wiper blades the same!


Interested in joining the next WIN Lab cohort of women entrepreneurs? Head here to learn more about our application cycle!