You just know that when actress Meryl Streep asks, in a letter, who invented the cotton gin, you’re going to be in for a surprise. Hers? The contraption that revolutionized the textile industry was conceived by a woman, Catherine Littlefield Greene, not Eli Whitney. But it wasn’t “appropriate” in the 18th century for women to hold patents, so it went to her partner. And therein explains Streep’s letter. Even today, writes the star of films with strong female leads like The Devil Wears Prada, women get little respect. It’s time to change that and memorialize their contribution to America, she says. In seeking donations for the National Women’s History Museum, she notes, “There are museums in Washington, D.C., for everything from postage stamps to poetry to spies.” It could cost $400 million. The idea is on track, but Congress has yet to approve a prominent location.