Women inventors have played an important role in the innovations of the country and the world over time. According to the USPTO, women’s share of new entrants into patent system has increased by 12% since 1980. This Women’s History Month, find out the names of these inventors who’ve ushered in impactful innovations in spite of the odds.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper, born in 1906, is the inventor of computer programming. She was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral and one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. She helped invent the first computer coding language used in business called COBOL.

Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad

At only 16, Azza Faiad invented a new way to turn plastic waste into biofuel. Her process converted plastic into fuel feedstocks — the bulk raw material for producing biofuel — by identifying a catalyst, calcium bentonite, for breaking down plastic waste. When the waste is broken down, it produces gaseous products including methane, propane and ethane, which are then converted into ethanol for use as biofuel.

Sarah E. Goode

Sarah Elisabeth Goode, born 1855, was the second known African-American woman to receive a United States patent with her novel “folding bed cabinet”. Goode’s invention preceded the well known Murphy bed by almost 25 years, “making it a precursor for major furniture items in the industry today like the futon, flat-pack furniture, and more“.

Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek was a Polish-American chemist known for discovering the first of a family of synthetic fibers for exceptional strength and stiffness including Kevlar, a material that is five times stronger than steel. Kwolek’s invention was made by accident in a lab while experimenting with other materials.

Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal

Born in 1946 Dr. Wong-Staal, a prominent virologist and molecular biologist, holds many patents related to AIDS and cancer research including a method for testing for AIDS and findings to help with treatments for patients. She is recognized as a pioneer for being the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes, which was a major step in proving that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

Further Reading Related to “Women Inventors and Their Innovations”

Faculty Spotlight: IP and Entrepreneurship Education with Professor Nathalie Duval-Couetil, Purdue University

Inventors Digest Featured Dr. Ayanna Howard Interview


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The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit 20mm.org.