CLEVELAND - As we celebrate Women's History Month, I must pay tribute to a woman who has made my life easier. She's not a household name, but she's responsible for a household product that new parents can't live without.
Marion Donovan was born in Fort Wayne, Ind. in 1917 and is a famous inventor. If she were alive today, I would love to shake her hand and tell her "thank you, thank you, thank you." Why? Because Donovan invented the prototype of the disposable diaper.
Donovan, who was also a mother, became frustrated with her babies' habit of wetting their diapers almost as soon as they were changed. So in 1946, she designed a waterproof diaper cover. They made their debut at New York's Saks Fifth Avenue in 1949, where they were an instant hit.
So, not long after that, Donovan started working on a disposable diaper. And it wasn't easy because the diaper had to prevent a rash. The material had to keep the moisture away from the baby's skin. What she came up with after much experimentation is a sturdy, absorbent paper that did the job.
But this was not an instant success. She presented her idea to major U.S. paper companies and was laughed at. They told her it was unnecessary and impractical. But after 10 years, Victor Mills, creator of Pampers, capitalized off of Donovan's disposable diaper idea. Again, parents all over the world are thankful for that great day.
Donovan went on to create more than a dozen patents and worked as a product development consultant for many years.
She died in 1998, but the benefit of her ingenuity is appreciated by every new parent today.