Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate women entrepreneurs and inventors. There are many items we use every day that were invented by women. The United States Patent and Trademark office released a study on participation of women in the U.S. innovation economy in July 2020. The report’s findings include:
More women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before.
The number of patents with at least one woman inventor increased from 20.7% in 2016 to 21.9% by the end of 2019.
The “Women Inventor Rate” — the share of U.S. inventors receiving patents who are women — increased from 12.1% in 2016 to 12.8% in 2019.
The share of women among new inventors on issued patents increased from 16.6% in 2016 to 17.3% by 2019.
A list of things most people never knew were invented by women was compiled by 24/7 Wall St. and include:
Circular saw: Tabitha Babbitt, 1812
While living in a Shaker community and working as a weaver, Babbitt watched people struggling to cut wood with a pit saw, which required two users and only cut in one direction. Determined to help, she attached a circular blade to her spinning wheel and invented the much more efficient circular saw.
Computer algorithm: Ada Lovelace, 1843
While translating the notes of mathematics professor Charles Babbage for his theoretical invention the analytical engine, Lovelace added her own notes, tripling the original text, and is credited with writing the world’s first computer algorithm.
Life raft: Maria Beasley, 1882
Though Beasley had already made a fortune on a barrel-hooping machine patent, this serial inventor went on to design an improved life raft with guardrails that was fireproof and foldable for easy storage. Her life rafts were used on the Titanic and saved more than 700 lives.
Medical syringe: Letitia Geer, 1899
For centuries before Greer’s invention of a one-handed syringe, medical professionals had been using syringes that required both hands to administer injections.
Low-reflection glass: Katharine Blodgett, 1935
Before Blodgett’s revolutionary nonreflective glass coating was invented, glass wasn’t nearly as useful or reliable as it is today. Her invention has proven indispensable in the making of camera lenses, microscopes and eyeglasses.
The continued growth of innovation by women and growing rates of patents will bring out more products we may not be able to live without, such as the examples above.
The Center for Women Entrepreneurs has several innovative clients, including an octogenarian who has a patent on an invention that will be put through a trial at Fort Hood later this year.