Happy International Women’s Day!
This Wednesday 8th March we celebrate International Women’s Day, a global day designated to celebrating social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world.
Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.
To mark this day, we wanted to share the story of one inspirational woman: Letitia Mumford Geer – the person who invented the modern syringe.
Letitia Mumford Geer was born in Michigan, 1871 to a family of farmers. After college, she went on to teach for several years before moving to Chicago, where she married Charles Geer, a prominent businessman involved in the manufacturing of surgical instruments.
While helping her husband with the business, Geer noticed that the syringes used in medical procedures were difficult to use, often inaccurate, and prone to infection. This inspired her to look into a better syringe that was more precise, easy to use, and sterile.
In 1899, at just 28, Geer put forward the designs for a new patent. A medical syringe featuring a glass barrel and a rubber plunger. The barrel was graduated to allow precise measurements of liquids, and the plunger was designed to create a vacuum that could draw fluids into the syringe. Geer’s design also featured a needle that could be easily attached and detached, making it easier to reuse and more hygienic.
Granted in 1904, Geer quickly got to work – founding the Geer Manufacturing Company to produce her new design. The company quickly grew, and Geer’s syringes became popular with doctors and hospitals across the United States.
Geer’s business was not without challenges, however. Many doctors and hospitals were hesitant to adopt her new syringe design, preferring to stick with the older, more familiar models. Geer also faced competition from other manufacturers who sought to copy her design or create their own competing products.
Despite these challenges, Geer’s company continued to thrive, and she went on to invent other medical instruments, including a nasal speculum and a surgical retractor. She also became involved in the suffrage movement and was an active member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Geer’s invention of the medical syringe was a significant milestone in the history of medicine. Her innovation made medical procedures safer, more accurate, and more efficient, saving countless lives and transforming the healthcare industry. Geer’s legacy also extends beyond her invention. As a woman in a male-dominated field, she broke down barriers and paved the way for other women in science and engineering. Her dedication and perseverance continue to inspire future generations of inventors and entrepreneurs.