Women have named the contraceptive pill, the push-up bra and the washing machine as the greatest inventions of the past century.

A comprehensive study of thousands of women in Europe found they credit these three products with changing their lives more than any other.

The pill topped the poll, with 65 percent saying it has had a massive impact on their lives.

Interestingly, the push-up bra was revealed the second most influential, with 34 percent 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 burnt 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 washing machine, first launched in 1937, was also a surprise entry in the top 10, 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.

Interestingly, the usual favourites like the internet didn’t feature at all in the top 10, in the survey of 5 000 women in Europe.

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. Being able to make those simple choices redefined 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.”

Other revolutionary inventions included the tampon and pregnancy test.

Mascara also proved popular – with a staggering one in 10 women aged under 30 saying it had revolutionised their lives. – Daily Mail


1 The contraceptive pill - 65 %

2 The push-up bra - 34 %

3 The washing machine - 34 %

4 Tampons - 31 %

5 Pregnancy tests - 25 %

6 Disposable nappies - 17 %

7 Mascara - 8 %

8 Jeans - 7 %

9 Fresh prepared meals - 6 %

10 Contact lenses - 4 %

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