Hertha Ayrton studied Mathematics in Cambridge, passing her courses in 1880, but they did not grant her an academic degree because Cambridge gave only certificates and not full degrees to women at the time A year later she passed an external examination at the University of London, which awarded her a Bachelor of Science degree.
In 1884 she patented her first major invention; a line-divider, an engineering drawing instrument for dividing a line into any number of equal parts and for enlarging and reducing figures which became useful for artists, architects, and engineers. The invention was shown at the Exhibition of Women's Industries. From 1884 until her death, she registered 26 patents: five on mathematical dividers, 13 on arc lamps and electrodes, the rest on the propulsion of air.
In 1899, she was the first woman ever to read her own paper before the Institution of Electrical Engineers on the electric arc. Soon after, she was elected the first female member of the IEE. She later petitioned to present a paper before the Royal Society but was not allowed because of her sex but became the first woman to win a prize from the Society, the Hughes Medal, awarded to her in 1906 in honor of her research on the motion of ripples in sand and water and her work on the electric arc.
In 1900 she spoke at the International Electrical Congress in Paris in 1900 which led the British Association for the Advancement of Science to allow women to serve on general and sectional committees.
In 1904, she became the first woman to read a paper before the Royal Society which was later published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. In 1906, she was awarded the Royal Society's Hughes Medal for electric arcs and sand ripples making her one of only two women honored as of 2015.
Her interest in vortices in water and air inspired the Ayrton fan used in the trenches in the First World War to dispel poison gas. She fought for its acceptance and organized its production, over 100,000 being used on the Western Front.
She helped found the International Federation of University Women in 1919 and the National Union of Scientific Workers in 1920. - Jo - 12 hours ago