We get to express our gratitude for all female inventors during National Women Inventors Month, observed throughout February. Female inventors are responsible for a majority of useful things we enjoy today. They have played a pivotal role in the fields of science, technology, and the arts. So if you’ve ever enjoyed your car heater on a cold day, or a fold-out bed during a fun sleepover, or even a dishwasher, then you owe it all to female inventors. Female inventors have broken all barriers in gender equality. They are an inspiration to the young girls of today, who, thanks to scholarships for women, can have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.
History of National Women Inventors Month
Women inventors have been saving our lives since before the 1700s. However, before then, women were not allowed to own property or apply for U.S. patents to copyright or trademark their work. Women often had to apply for patents using their husbands’ names, but that all changed in 1793 with Hannah Slater.
Slater was responsible for creating a new method of producing sewing thread from cotton. Taking a smoothly spun yarn made by her husband Samuel, Hannah and her sister used a hand spinning tool to spin it into a thread that turned out to be stronger than its previous substitute — linen. Slater applied for a patent within the same year, and it was issued in the name of Mrs. Samuel Slater.
Following shortly after was another weaving innovator called Mary Dixon. She was responsible for creating a new technique of weaving hats from straw with silk and thread. Following hat-making innovations of women like Betsy Metcalf, who started the American straw hat industry, Mary invented a cost-effective, reliable way of making work bonnets using silk and thread which led to her applying for a patent in 1809. She received her patent along with special recognition from First Lady Dolley Madison. Her original patent was sadly destroyed in a fire in 1836, a year before she passed away.
Over time, women have soared in science, technology, and several other fields, leading to a majority of inventions we still enjoy to date. Some innovations we owe to women today are the fire escape invented by Anna Connelly in 1887, the car heater invented by Margaret A. Wilcox in 1893, Monopoly invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904, computer programming invented by Grace Hopper in 1944, laser cataract surgery invented by Patricia Bath in 1986, amongst many others.
National Women Inventors Month timeline
The new Patent Act allows women to apply for patents in the U.S.
Maria Beasley creates the life raft to cut down lives lost at sea.
Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her research in radioactivity.
Chemist Stephanie Kwolek discovers Kevlar, which now has over 200 applications, including bulletproof material.
National Women Inventors Month FAQs
Who is the most famous female inventor?
There are several important and famous female inventors we know today. However, the famous ones are those that led to groundbreaking discoveries in their fields, such as Marie Curie in the ‘Theory of Radioactivity,’ Grace Hopper in computer programming, Rosalind Franklin in D.N.A. Double Helix, and Stephanie Kwolek with Kevlar.
How many women are in the National Inventors Hall of Fame?
As of today, there are a total of 48 female inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Who is the first black female inventor?
Judy Reed was the first African-American woman to own a U.S. patent for her invention of a dough kneader and roller. However, since her patent was only signed with an ‘X’ and not her signature, some attribute Sarah E. Goode to be the first African-American woman to own a patent for her invention of the folding bed.
How to Observe National Women Inventors Month
Read about it
If you aren’t already blown away by the number of things we now enjoy that were invented by women, read up on some more. National Women Inventors Month is all through February, and the inventions we discussed make up a small percentage of useful inventions made by women. Do some more research and discover all the shocking inventions made by women.
Start a project
Everyone is capable of being innovative and creating something new. Dig into your inner inventor and start a project this month. Don’t feel pressured if it doesn’t seem big enough, because some inventions like Kevlar were found by mistake, while others like Mary Dixon’s bonnets are more creative and less scientific.
Attend a fair
Within National Women Inventors Month, there are several fairs and conferences organized to boost the inclusion and innovations of women. Find the ones happening nearest to you, and pick a few days within the month to attend. You can learn something new, and also raise awareness by doing so.
5 Interesting Facts About Women-Made Inventions
The paper bag invention was almost stolen
A man was going to steal and patent the idea for paper bags from the original inventor, Margaret E. Knight.
Debt pushed the invention of the dishwasher
The inventor of the dishwasher, Josephine Cochrane, was forced to make the dishwasher work after her husband died and she was left in debt.
The life-raft creator was a serial inventor
Maria Beasley was an American inventor that made a fortune from a series of inventions before the life-raft.
Windshield wipers were not widely accepted
Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers, which were generally declined by manufacturers until Cadillac in 1996.
Chocolate chip cookies are also an invention
Ruth Graves Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie to offer her inn guests something new.
Why National Women Inventors Month is Important
It acknowledges the effort of women
National Women Inventors Month acknowledges the effort of women in industries that affect the world at large. Women play an important role in the inventions of so many innovations we now enjoy, and this month makes sure we pay our respects and appreciation to women inventors.
It paves the way
A month like this encourages other brilliant female minds to explore and go after their not-so-crazy ideas. National Women Inventors Month shows women what they are capable of, and what they can achieve once they let go of their fears and pursue their dreams, or in this case, their inventions.
It raises awareness
The majority of people today do not fully understand the effort and importance women play when it comes to innovations. A month like this raises awareness of such innovations, and also increases an understanding of the importance of women in any industry
National Women Inventors Month dates