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The most frequently sung song of all time was written by women.
Mildred Hill and Patty Smith Hill wrote the music that was to become "Happy Birthday to You" in 1893. It became the first song ever sung in space (at least by earthlings!) on March 8, 1969, when the astronauts aboard Apollo 9 sang it for Christopher Kraft, director of space operations for NASA. Contrary to popular belief, "Happy Birthday" is not in the public domain. Hill set up a foundation to which a royalty is supposed to be paid for each entertainment use of the song—when it's sung on a sitcom, for example. Or at your birthday party!
Actually, it's the most frequently sung song in the English language, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It's been translated into many other languages, but, oddly, it is often sung with the English lyrics in countries where English is not a primary language.
Incidentally, a woman, Euphemia Allen, also composed what is probably the song played most often on the piano—"Chopsticks"!
Speaking of musical achievement . . .
We sing better than guys do.
Six times as many females as males can sing in tune. Why? No expert claims to have the definitive answer. But most speculate that better singing is a part of the female's superior verbal-ability package (see #5). Others point to the fact that females have superior auditory memory (see #25)—that is, we are better at remembering the way a song is supposed to sound, say, from hearing it on the radio. It probably also doesn't hurt that mothers tend to sing more to girl babies than to boy babies, according to somestudies.
Women invented many of the devices that make our everyday lives easier.
In 1957 C. D. Tuska, the patent director for RCA, a company that makes TVs, audiovisual equipment, and the like, said: "Most of our inventors are of the male sex. Why is the percentage of women so low? I'm sure I do not know, except the Good Lord intended them to be mothers. They produce the inventors and help rear them, and that should be sufficient." Well, shut it, Tuska.
Women invented the dishwasher, for example, plus disposable diapers, the bra (and the jockstrap!), flat-bottomed paper bags, Scotchgard (to make things waterproof), vacuum canning, the automatic sewing machine, and the drip coffee maker. Women also invented Jell-O and the TV dinner (although the early TV dinners were terrible—take it from one who knows).
In 1793 the first-ever U.S. patent was issued to Hannah Slater for perfecting cotton sewing thread. In the early 1900s Madame C. J. Walker created the first cosmetics and hair care products specifically for African Americans. A little later in the century Dorothy Feiner Rodgers, the wife of famous composer Richard Rodgers (he cowrote the songs for The Sound of Music, for example) and a wealthy member of New York's high society, surprisingly invented a couple of rather basic household items. The more popular of the two was called the Jonny Mop, and it is still being manufactured today. A small mop to clean toilets, it was the first that featured a disposable sponge on its . . . uh . . . icky end.
But women inventors haven't limited themselves to hearth, home, and hair. If you want to go way, way back in time, Greek scholars believe Queen Semiramis of Assyria invented bridges, causeways, and canals. The list of woman-borne inventions also includes the bulletproof vest, the fire escape, the Navy's signal flare, the circular saw, solar heating, invisible glass, computer programming, DuPont's Kevlar (a thread that's as strong as steel), Liquid Paper correction fluid (usually referred to as "white-out"), pneumatic (inflated with air) tires, tract housing, the cordless phone, laser cataract surgery, windshield wipers, the hang glider, and even the white line that divides a road.
Amelia Earhart, who, in 1932, was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, designed the first lightweight luggage designed for air travel. Hedy Lamarr (a famous 1930s film star) invented a sophisticated and hush-hush torpedo control device to foil the Nazis, a device that now speeds satellite communications throughout the world. Ruth Handler, best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, also invented the first truly natural-looking breast prosthesis for women who had had mastectomies. Elsa Garmire, now a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College, developed a cost-effective method of zapping graffiti with a laser (this is one of nine patents she owns). Incidentally, she started the first commercial laser light show, "Laserium," while she lived in California.
Experts believe women invented scores of other useful contraptions we now take for granted, but they never received any credit for their work. Many American women, especially those who did their inventing before 1900, registered patents under their husband's or their father's name because (1) women had no property rights until the turn of the century, and (2) to be mechanical was considered unfeminine.
A case in point: Have you ever heard of Catherine Littlefield Greene? She was evidently behind the invention of a machine that changed the course of American history. In 1792 Greene, a widow with five children, was running a boardinghouse in Georgia. When she became annoyed with the amount of time she had to spend separating cotton from its seeds so that she could spin it into thread, she prodded a young boarder named Eli Whitney to come up with a machine to do the work for her. With Greene's financial support, Whitney enthusiastically tackled the problem and, after about six months, came up with a prototype of the cotton gin, then almost gave up because the wooden teeth he had devised to separate the seeds from the cotton just weren't tough enough for the job. It was Greene who suggested he try wire teeth instead. The rest is history. And that's a conservative version of the story. Some accounts have Greene actually providing Whitney with the plans for the machine.Why It's Great to Be a Girl
50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!. Copyright © by Jacqueline Shannon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.