Five things invented by women 五件由女性發明的東西

Men invented computer programming, right?

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計算機程序設計應該是個男性工作的領域,對嗎?僅從目前的從業人數來看,男性程序員的人數超過女性從業人數,但曾經一度可不是這樣的。本集《隨身英語》帶你認識50年代的一位女性先鋒程序員,同時介紹那些由女性發明的日用品。

課文內容

Vocabulary: Innovation 詞匯: 創造

Here’s a simple challenge: name a famous inventor. Perhaps Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci springs to mind. Or the pioneer of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. But you might be hard-pressed to name many female inventors, even though women are behind some of the most widely used technologies in the modern world.

For example, where would we be without the windscreen wiper? Back on a freezing winter’s day in 1902, Mary Anderson was travelling by tram through New York city. Snow was falling, forcing the driver to stop repeatedly and get out to clear it. Each time the door opened, Mary suffered a gust of sub-zero air. She had a brainwave: why not make some kind of a rubber blade that could be operated from inside the vehicle? And that’s exactly what she did. 

Let’s step in from freezing New York for our next invention. The dishwasher dates back even earlier to the 19th Century, and to the dinner parties thrown by a lady called Josephine Cochrane. As a frequent host, she wanted a machine that could wash dishes faster than people. Her response was to develop what was to become the first commercially successful dishwasher. Interestingly, innovation was in her blood: her grandfather had invented the steamboat. 

Need something to do while the dishwasher is whirring away? How about a round of Monopoly? One of the most popular board games around, the rules were first drawn up by a lady called Elizabeth Magie, and patented in 1904. Her intention was to create a game to highlight what she saw as the pitfalls of capitalism. It was originally called The Landlord’s Game. 

To an altogether different kind of innovation: Kevlar is the lightweight fibre used in bulletproof vests. The material is used by millions every day and has saved countless lives. The super tough fabric is also used in objects ranging from gloves to aeroplanes to wind turbines. Incredibly, its strength-to-weight ratio is five times higher than steel. Again, it was invented by a woman, the American chemist Stephanie Kwolek, in 1964. 

Finally, one of the most important inventions of the 20th Century must surely be the computer programme. The world of programming is notoriously unbalanced in terms of gender. Men vastly outnumber women, and take home around 30% more pay than their female counterparts on average. But back in the 1940s and 50s, women were at the forefront of this new field. Grace Hopper is credited with inventing the first compiler in 1952, which serves as the bridge between code and the binary ones and zeros understood by computers.

詞匯表

polymath 博學者,博學的人
spring to mind 突然呈現在腦海中
pioneer 先鋒
hard-pressed (由于缺少時間)面臨困難的
where would we be without… 假如沒有…我們將會是怎樣的?
windscreen wiper 雨刷器
sub-zero 溫度在零度以下的
brainwave (突發的)靈感,妙計
dishwasher 洗碗機
throw (a party) 舉辦(聚會)
in someone’s blood 在某人的血液中,在骨子里
whirr (洗衣機)發出嗡嗡聲
patent 注冊專利權
pitfall 陷阱
bulletproof vest 防彈背心
wind turbine 風力發電機
notoriously 出了名地(負面),聲名狼藉地
gender 性別
outnumber 在數量上壓倒
binary 二進位制

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。 

1. How did a cold day cause the windscreen wiper to be invented? 

2. Why did Cochrane invent the dishwasher?  

3. Which word expresses the relationship between two amounts?    

4. Which word refers to something lone with a sharp edge?    

5. Which industry used to employ comparatively more women in the past than today?

2.
請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處

1. I’ve just had a ______. Why don’t we invent a machine that answers questions in Take Away English?

brainwave       innovation       invention       idea

2. Where would we be without you, Matt? Your quick thinking ______ our company.

hard-pressed       whirred       ruined       saved          

3. There are a number of ______ to consider when starting a business. Do your research so you don’t face these problems.

polymaths       pitfalls       patents       opportunities 

4. What’s that whirring sound? It’s just the ______.

drill       television       washing machine       cat  

5. This area is ______ for violence. Take care on the streets.

notorious       pitfall       in the blood       outnumbered

答案
 

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。 

1. How did a cold day cause the windscreen wiper to be invented? 
Every time the driver opened the door, freezing air came inside. Mary Anderson thought there had to be a better way of cleaning the window from inside – which exactly what her invention does.

2. Why did Cochrane invent the dishwasher?
Josephine Cochrane wanted a machine that could wash dishes quicker than humans could, so she could continue to host large parties for her guests.    

3. Which word expresses the relationship between two amounts?
Ratio    

4. Which word refers to something lone with a sharp edge?
Blade. 

5. Which industry used to employ comparatively more women in the past than today?
Computing. Women were at the forefront in the 1940s and 50s, but now the field is dominated by men.

2. 
請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處

1. I’ve just had a brainwave. Why don’t we invent a machine that answers questions in Take Away English? 

2. Where would we be without you, Matt? Your quick thinking saved our company. 

3. There are a number of pitfalls to consider when starting a business. Do your research so you don’t face these problems. 

4. What’s that whirring sound? It’s just the washing machine

5. This area is notorious for violence. Take care on the streets.

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