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German women have made significant contributions to scienceImage: Montage AP/DW

Germany's Female Inventors

DW staff (win)
March 8, 2006

As the world celebrates International Women's Day, DW-WORLD looks at the achievements of some of Germany's ground-breaking female inventors.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel
Caroline Lucretia Herschel

Caroline Lucretia Herschel

Born in Hanover on March 16, 1750

Died in Hanover on Jan. 9, 1848

Herschel was the first woman to receive full recognition in the world of astronomy. Between 1786 and 1797, she discovered eight comets and 14 nebulae. She received many rewards, including the golden medal of the British Royal Astronomic Society in 1828. The asteroid 281 Lucretia was named after her, as was C. Herschel crater in the Sinus Iridium on the Moon.

Fallschirmspringer feiern das Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs
Paratroopers can thank Paulus for her inventionImage: AP

Katharina Paulus

Born in Zellhausen (Hesse) on Dec. 22, 1868

Died in Berlin on July 26, 1935

Germany's first professional air pilot, Paulus developed the so-called "parachute packet" in 1913. She folded the parachute and stowed it in a bag, creating the first modern parachute. It saved many lives during World War I, earning her a medal for help during the war. Paulus also invented the intentional breakaway, a system that has one small parachute open to pull out the main one.

Melitta Bentz

Born in Dresden on Jan. 31, 1873

Died in Holzhausen an der Porta on June 29, 1950

Kuchen, Kaffee, Torten
No more grounds to go with that coffee, thanks to Melitta BentzImage: Carlos Albuquerque

Apparently sick and tired of dealing with coffee grounds in her cups, Bentz developed the first coffee filter in 1908. She perforated the bottom of a brass pot in a sieve-like fashion and covered the bottom with a piece of blotting paper from her son's notebook. Bentz registered her invention with the Imperial Patent Office. The same year, she founded her own company that has since grown into a billion-euro multinational conglomerate. It is still family-owned.

Amalie Noether
Amalie "Emmy“ Noether

Emmy Noether

Born in Erlangen on March 23, 1882

Died in Bryn Mawr on April 14, 1935

Noether is one of the founders of modern algebra. Noether's Theorem became a basic pillar of the mathematical foundations of physics. As a Jew, she was forced to flee Germany after the Nazis came to power in 1933 and emigrated to the US, where she taught at Bryn Mawr until her death two years later.

Maria Göppert-Mayer

Born in Kattowitz on June 28, 1906

Died in San Diego on Feb. 20, 1972

Professorin Maria Goeppert-Mayer
Maria Göppert-MayerImage: picture-alliance / dpa

In 1949, Göppert-Mayer developed a model to explain the so-called magic numbers, certain amounts of nucleons in the nucleus of an atom that cause an atom to be extremely stable. In 1963, she shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for her model of the nuclear shell structure with J. Hans D. Jensen and Eugene Paul Wigner.

Marga Faulstich

Born in Weimar on June 16, 1915

Died in Mainz on Jan. 1, 1998

Marga Faulstich
Marga FaulstichImage: Schott

Working at Schott glass company for 44 years, Faulstich developed over 300 kinds of eyeglass lenses. In 1973, she received the IR100 award from the American Industrial Research Council for the 100 most significant new technical products for her SF64 lightweight lens. It made it possible to create much lighter glasses that were also esthetically more pleasing. She was the first female executive at Schott in Mainz. About 40 patents are still registered in her name.

Christiane Nüsslein Volhard

Born in Magdeburg on Oct. 1942

Nobelpreisträgerin Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
Christiane Nüsslein-VolhardImage: dpa

The biologist is an expert in the fields of genetics and developmental biology. She became the director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen in 1985. Ten years later, she shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with two Americans for "their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development."

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