03/08/2012 10:18 am ET Updated May 08, 2012

International Women's Day: Mothers of Invention

March 8th is International Women's Day, a day when we celebrate the achievements of women (at least that's what Wikipedia says we do). When I visited the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, I learned that women are getting more patents than ever before -- with 22,984 patents granted to women in 2010, according to data released last week. The USPTO had a display on women patent-holders and I was reminded that women had invented quite a lot of cool stuff over the years.

I would have thought that the majority of women's inventions from the last century would be in traditionally "feminine" industries (not that there's anything wrong with that -- where would we all be without the Snugli baby carrier?). But that's actually just part of the story. Here's a sampling of inventions you probably didn't realize were created by women:

SLIDESHOW: Inventions Brought To You By Women

women's inventions

Thank you to Mary, Margaret, Stephanie and Hedy for making our lives better! Now I'll just grab my cell phone, a few paper bags for shopping and jump in my car, confident that visibility will be high no matter what the weather. And as always, I'll be grateful that I don't need a bullet proof vest.