While they haven’t always gotten full credit for their inventions, women have been building, creating and inventing new machines, techniques and tools for centuries. National Women Inventors Month offers a delightful opportunity to show respect for and celebrate the women who have designed, formulated, developed and devised their ways into making the world a better place!
History of National Women Inventors Month
While women have often made a huge difference with their inventions, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that women in the United States were allowed to own property, manage their personal assets – or own patents for their inventions. This meant that many women were forced to patent their inventions under the names of their husbands or fathers.
In 1793, Hannah Slater developed a new process to spin cotton thread and she received the patent in the name of Mrs. Samuel Slater, acknowledging her as “Mrs.” but still omitting her first name. Then, in 1809, Mary Dixon Kies was the first woman to be awarded a patent in her own full name, responsible for a new process of weaving straw with silk for hat-making.
Many women inventors, whether famous or not very well-known, have made an enormous impact on the way the world works. And while women continue to be underrepresented in the STEM fields, all of these important women deserve to be honored during National Women Inventors Month!
How to Celebrate National Women Inventors Month
Give some credit where it is due by participating in some activities for National Women Inventors Month, such as these:
Learn About Women Inventors
An excellent way to celebrate National Women Inventors Month is to spend some time learning more about the unique lives of many women inventors. Head on over to the local library to check out some books, do some online research, or check out some of these names of women inventors to get started with:
Hedy Lamar (1914-2000)
This Austrian-born inventor may be more well-known for her silver screen activities, but she was also part of inventing an important wireless communication system that was used against the Nazis in WWII.
Dr. Shirley Jackson (Born 1946)
The first black woman to earn a PhD from MIT, Jackson researched subatomic particles and led to the invention of telecom features such as caller ID, solar cells, call waiting, fiber optic cables and more.
Maria Telkes (1900-1995)
This Hungarian-American biophysicist is credited with building the first house that was powered entirely by solar energy.
Visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame
Get more exposed to women inventors by checking out the website for the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) which offers insight and bios. Those who are up for a trip to Washington, DC might want to visit the museum, which is called the National Monument to Innovation, located at the US Patent and Trademark Office. It’s a great place to discover the work of various inventors up close, with a kid-friendly learning experience. Plus, admission is always free!