Women Who Hold a Patent

Fizza Zehra

January 03, 2021

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Patents are granted to the owner of an invention, allowing the creator and subsequent owners to prevent others from taking advantage or using their invention without their consent. Similar to copyright.

Women inventors account for just under 13% of patent applications globally, according to a study by the UK's intellectual property office. That is one female inventor for every seven male ones. Researchers attribute the gap to a lack of women working in science, technology, engineering, and maths (stem).

A few great examples listed:

Mary Kies was the first woman to receive a US patent on May 5, 1809. Her invention involved a unique method of weaving straw with silk. From this new method, she could make and sell beautiful hats.

Margaret Knight was an exceptionally prolific inventor in the late 19th century. Researchers often compared her to her better known male contemporary Thomas Edison. She owned a total of 27 patents in her life. Her first invention was a safety device for textile looms.

Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, invented a coffee filter system in 1908 and founded a business that still exists today.

Scientist Katherine Blodgett contributed important research to military needs like gas masks, smoke screens, and a new technique for de-icing airplane wings. Her work resulted in her most influential invention: non-reflective glass.

Stephanie Kwolek began working at the chemical company Dupont, where she spent 40 years of her career. While working she created a usually lightweight and durable new fiber which was later modified and used in everything from military helmets and bulletproof jackets to work gloves etc.

Stereotypes around women's educational and career choices need to be tackled, by encouraging women to choose stem areas, introducing mentoring schemes, and celebrating female role models.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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