The Pill, Pampers and push-up bras: The ten most influential inventions women say have changed their lives
13:09 GMT, 4 April 2012
Women have named the contraceptive pill, push-up bra and the washing machine as the greatest inventions of the last century.
The comprehensive study of thousands of women found they credit these three products with changing their lives more than any other.
The pill topped the poll – with 65 per cent of 2,000 UK women saying it has had a massive impact on their lives.
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Interestingly, the push-up bra was revealed the second most influential, with 34 per cent of women declaring it ‘revolutionary’.
It was far more popular with younger women – showing how much attitudes have changed over the generations.
Lingerie has come a long way since the 1960s – when feminists binned their bras during protests for women’s rights.
With popular brands like Wonderbra promoting the sexier side of underwear it seems bras are now regarded more as a statement of femininity.
The research, by pregnancy test brand Clearblue Plus, showed the lingerie item is enjoying a new found popularity, particularly in Britain.
The washing machine, first launched in 1937, was also a surprise entry in the top ten, sharing second place.
The study showed it was more popular with the over 45s and 55s.
Once a luxury item, the electric washing machine has become a staple item in the majority of modern houses.
Hello girls! Women rated the bra – like this push-up Wonderbra – as the second best invention to have surfaced in the past century
Clearblue Plus carried out the research among 5,000 females across Europe to find the items most valued by women.
Interestingly, the usual favourites like the internet didn’t feature at all in the top ten.
Commenting on the findings, psychotherapist Christine Webber said: “The list really highlights the differences between the generations.
'For the older generation, some items, like the washing machine, really did make a huge difference to their lives.
'Many women alive today can remember when ‘wash day’ was still a backbreaking task.
'There was no way that women could ever have achieved anything like equality in the workplace while they had to go through that every week.
'For the younger generation, the products and designs, like the bra, often enhance what they’ve already got and continue to make their lives easier.'
She added: 'The Pill is also important because it gave women the freedom to choose when to have children and how many to have.
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'Being able to make those simple choices re-defined women and profoundly changed lives.
'For the first time women could side-step the nappy bucket in favour of going to university or limit the size of their family to help protect their health.
'It gave women a confidence we’d never had before.'
Office worker Charlotte Smith admitted modern bras are a massive confidence booster.
The 29-year-old, from London, said: “The bra has certainly changed my life for the better and can give me a cleavage I’d never otherwise have.
'It’s such a simple design but it has the ability to fill you full of confidence.
'It’s interesting to see how much it has changed over the years.
'Now there are more designs and its become more of a fashion item than a practical piece of clothing.
'I would definitely be prepared to spend whatever it takes to get the right one.'
Other revolutionary inventions included the tampon and pregnancy test.
Mascara also proved popular – with a staggering one in ten women aged under 30 saying it had revolutionised their lives.
The research marked the launch of the new ergonomic Clearblue Plus Pregnancy Test.
Amy Jenkins, of Clearblue Plus, said: 'It’s interesting to see that good design can have such a positive impact on women’s day-to-day lives.'
TOP TEN INVENTIONS OF THE LAST CENTURY AS VOTED BY UK WOMEN
1 The contraceptive pill 65 per cent
2 The bra 34 per cent
3 The washing machine 34 per cent
4 Tampons 31 per cent
5 Pregnancy tests 25 per cent
6 Disposable nappies 17 per cent
7 Mascara 8 per cent
8 Jeans 7 per cent
9 Fresh prepared meals 6 per cent
10 Contact lenses 4 per cent