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A CLASS ACT - WOMEN INVENTORS

Historians have given us a picture of women inventors in the 19th century as a group that faced and often overcame significant hurdles to achieve their goals. Their one common bond is an innate curiosity that spurs them on to find something new, something better. Today, only about 10% of all patents are awarded to women.

Much of the history of contemporary women inventors remains to be written, Hopefully, as we learn more about these creative women, their stories will inspire future generations of Women Inventors.

 
1843 Ada Augusta Lovelace,  laid some of the early conceptual and technical groundwork for high technology by helping develop an early computer.
1903 Marie Curie was the first female recipient of a Nobel Prize, for the discovery of radioactive elements.

Mary Anderson was awarded a patent in 1903 for a window cleaning device, a foreruuner to the windshield wiper.

1904 Lizzie Magie invents a game called The Landlords Game a forerunner of the Monopoly game.
1946 Marion Donovan sold her disposable diaper invention for about $1 million "in order to devote more time to developing other inventions".
1952 Grace Hopper was credited with devising the first compiler, a program that translates instructions for a computer from English to machine language.
1959 Ruth Handler invented an anatomically improbable molded plastic statuette named Barbie. Since its debut in 1959,  the Barbie doll has become an American icon that functions as both a steady outlet for girls' dreams and an ever changing reflection of American society.
1965 Stephanie Kwolek invented one of the modern world's most readily recognized and widely used materials: Kevlar. Her name appears on 16 patents; she is sole patent holder on seven.
1991 Naomi Nakao, is a practicing gastroenterologist, founder of Granit Medical Innovations in 1989 and inventor of the Nakao Snare in 1991. She has 54 patents or patent pending in her name.
1993 One Saturday morning in 1993, when she was eight years old, Abigail M. Fleck and her father, Jonathan, were cooking bacon in their St. Paul, Minnesota home. Inspired by an offhand comment from her father,. Abbey Fleck invented a new, quicker and healthier way to cook bacon, then founded a company to sell her product, The Makin' BaconŒ.
2002 Under Helen Greiner's leadership, iRobot Corporation is delivering robots into the industrial, consumer, academic, and military markets. In 2002, the ROOMBA robot vacuum was introduced to the consumer products marketplace.
2006 Jennifer Tuttle submitted a short essay to the Live Your Dream contest. Tuttle created a game, Multiplication Madness. In February, 2006 she was selected as the winner and won over $250,000 in cash, products and training for her effort.

TO LEARN MORE

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women
by Lynne Cheney / Hardcover: 48 pages / Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (2003) / Ages 4+
Snippets of information about each featured woman give a taste; ideally, readers will seek more in-depth biographies about the historical figures who pique their interests.
The Book for Women Who Invent or Want to
by Elizabeth Wallace / Paperback (December 1998) / Women Inventors Project
Each chapter of this 100-plus page manual starts out with the personal experiences of one successful inventor/entrepreneur. This book is a MUST for all creative people with great ideas, but just don't know where to begin.
Feminine Ingenuity: Women and Invention in America
by Anne L. MacDonald / Paperback - 540 pages (March 1994) / Ballantine Books (Trd Pap);
Chronicles women's patented inventions, beginning with the first patent obtained by a woman (in 1809). Discusses some of the economic, political, and social obstacles, and sets the women and their inventions in historical context.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh, Melissa Sweet (ill.) / Hardcover - 64 pages (2000) / Houghton Mifflin

A dozen women are profiled in this collection of short, anecdotal biographies demonstrating that necessity, ingenuity, and luck all play a part in successful inventions. The final section tells girls how to patent their inventions, and an informed bibliography..

Inventors Want to Know
by The Women Inventors Project / Spiral-bound (January 1990) / Women Inventors Project
This manual takes you step by step through each stage of product development from conception to market stage. A unique feature of this guide is the anecdotal profiles of successful women inventors and entrepreneurs.

Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor
by Marlene Targ Brill, Joanne Friar / Library Binding - 32 pages (October 2001) / Millbrook Pr
Knight was interested in how things worked and in building and inventing. This picture book tells the story of how she came up with the idea to make a safer loom at age 12. Like many children of the 1800s, Mattie worked in a textile mill. She was greatly troubled by the many accidents and even deaths caused by the shuttle or "kiss of death." After several attempts, she designed a stop-motion gadget that changed weaving machines forever.
Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology
by Autumn Stanley / Paperback: 708 pages / Rutgers University Press (October 1, 1995)
T
races women's inventions in five vital areas of technology worldwide--agriculture, medicine, reproduction, machines, and computers. ...an exceptional tribute to women inventors and innovators.....full of biographical, historical, and technical information.
Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries
by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne / Paperback: 451 pages / Joseph Henry Press; (February 2001)
Explores the reason for the disparity in the number of male and female Nobel Prize recipients by examining the lives and achievements of 15 women scientists who either won a Nobel Prize or played a crucial role in a Nobel Prize-winning project.

Patently Female
by Ethlie Ann Vare, Greg Ptacek / Hardcover - 240 pages (November 9, 2001) / John Wiley & Sons
Patently Female will reveal the stories behind remarkable innovations, and introduce you to the even more remarkable women who made them.
Women Invent: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World
by Susan Casey /
Paperback - 144 pages (October 1997) / Chicago Review Press
These inspiring stories of women inventors take the reader on a step-by-step journey through the process of inventing.

ON THE SCREEN:
Mothers of Invention
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / Biography Channel / Less than $25.00
Women inventors are still outpaced by their male counterparts, but the number and impact of these innovators is growing, and they stand on the shoulders of the trailblazers whose stories are told here. Hear their stories of discovery and find out why so many of their inventions went without credit. ncludes extensive interviews with some of today's most successful inventors.Open the patent files to examine the accomplishments of female inventors
History of Women's Achievement in America
DVD / PBS / 240 min on 4 discs / Item no: HWAC400 / Less than $129.99
As adventurers, educators, artists, and freedom fighters, women have played an essential role in the shaping of the United States for 400 years. Celebrate the inspiring accomplishments and victories of American women in every arena of American life. From the earliest pioneers to the intellectual giants of the 20th century, the poets to the prominent social reformers, learn about the women at the forefront of American achievement and progress.

ON THE WEB:
Distinguished Women of Past and Present : Invention
Created by Danuta Bois, this website provides a directory of websites and some brief biographies of famous women inventors.
(URL: www.distinguishedwomen.com/subject/invention.html)

Enchanted Learning
Women Inventors - A Sampling of Women Inventors and Their Inventions
(URL: www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/women.shtml)
Exploring the History of Women Inventors
So historians have given us a picture of women inventors in the 19th century as a group that
faced and often overcame significant hurdles to achieve their goals.
Compiled by the Smithsonian.
(URL: invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/womeninventors.html)
Famous Women Inventors
Learn about women inventors inventing in traditionally male fields and why women are a minority of patent holders and how that is rapidly changing. Lots of COOKIES at this site.
(URL: inventors.about.com/cs/womeninventors/)
Famous Women Inventors: Exploring the Contributions of 20th Century Women Inventors
Throughout the 20th century, and now into the 21st, famous women inventors have played a vital role in the world of innovation. In fact, women have become increasingly prevalent in the field and are responsible for many momentous advances.
(URL: www.women-inventors.com/)
Female Frontiers
Female Frontiers is a Sharing NASA project. These online resources are provided by NASA's Quest team located at the NASA Ames Research Center. The Quest Project, NASA's K-12 Internet Initiative, is supported by the NASA Learning Technologies Project (formerly IITA) of NASA's Office of High Performance Computing and Communications.
(URL: www.quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/activities/womanswork/chart.html)

MentorNet
This  is the award-winning nonprofit e-mentoring network that addresses the retention and success of women in engineering, science and mathematics. Founded in 1997, MentorNet provides highly motivated proteges from many of the world's top colleges and universities with positive, one-on-one, email-based mentoring relationships with mentors from industry and academia.
(URL: www.mentornet.net/)

Mothers of Invention
Although most inventors today are scientists or engineers, neither profession is a prerequisite. Actresses, housewives, beauticians -- even an English noble -- have made outstanding innovations. Although hundreds of important women could be mentioned, here is a brief look at a few ingenious women and the stories behind their inventions.
(URL: www.stsci.edu/stsci/service/wsf/current/inventions.html)

National Women's Hall of Fame
The Hall is a shrine to some of the greatest women in the history of this country and a tribute that grows annually with each induction ceremony as we learn to appreciate more about the wonderful contributions that women make to our civilization
(URL: www.greatwomen.org/home.php)

Patents Held By Women
A brief listing. Having contributed to the industrial development of the nation, women hold patents in a wide range of fields. Listed below are some of the patents held by women inventors in the United States. From the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
(URL: www.asme.org/history/womchart.html)

Women as Inventors
This article on woman inventors is part of a patent manual written by Fred Dieterich in 1899. The interesting point here is not that it is surprising to see a piece written today about women inventors, but that when the article below was written it was 1899 and women didn't yet have the "right" to vote.
(URL: www.armchair.com/warp/win.html)
Women Inventors
Sybilla Masters is often called the first woman inventor in the American colonies. In 1715, the English courts awarded a patent--albeit, to her husband Thomas--for a method of making cornmeal from maize--"a new invention," the patent clearly stated, "found out by Sybilla his wife."  Still, by 1910, inventions by women accounted for less than 1% of all patents issued in the United States. From the "Lady Edison's" by J.E. Bedi for the Smithsonian Institution.
(URL: www.si.edu/harcourt/nmah/lemel/Wmvent.htm)

WOMEN INVENTORS
Presented to the Society of Women Engineers, Huntsville chapter, on March 4, 1999, for Women's History Month.by Susan Davis Herring
(URL: www.uah.edu/colleges/liberal/womensstudies/inventor.html)
Female Inventors
Because female inventors are under-recognized for their accomplishments, we are featuring biographical sketches of these famous women including what they invented, how they conceived the idea and what developments have taken place since the original invention.
(URL: www.inventions.org/culture/female/index.html)


 
   
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