Women by nature are problem solvers. Faced with a problem, women find a solution – even if it means inventing one. As Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The first U.S. patent was issued to a woman in 1809, but until 1840, only 20 other patents were issued to women. Not surprisingly, the inventions related to apparel, tools, cook stoves and fireplaces. Today, with access to specialized training and broader job opportunities, women are applying their creativity to solving new problems, including those requiring technological, scientific and mathematical skills.
The most recent patent statistics available from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office state that in 2002 women invented 10.9% of the inventions patented. There’s no way to know all the women who deserve credit for their creative labor – the Patent and Trademark Office does not require gender, racial or ethnic identification in patent or trademark applications. However, there’s enough statistical data to suggest that there are plenty of good reasons to encourage young girls and women to pursue science, math and technology based courses and careers to continue the legacy of great Mothers of Invention.
Here’s a few women inventors you should know. Click on each picture in the gallery below to learn more about their inventions.