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By Paul NiemannQUESTION: What do the inventors of the following products have in common?• The first washing machine (1871)• The first dishwasher (1872)• The first car heater (1893)• The first medical syringe (1899)• The first windshield wipers (1903) • The first refrigerator (1914)•The first engine muffler (1917) ANSWER: They were all women.There are many interesting facts about female inventors that you probably don’t know. For example, women were not allowed to own property during parts of the 1700’s and 1800’s. Since patents are considered property, women were not allowed to get patents on their inventions.For example, Ann Mathews invented a process for cleaning and curing corn in 1715. She is believed to be the first woman whose invention eventually received a patent, although it was granted to her husband. Some inventors applied for patents by using their initials instead of their first names, and it is likely that someof these inventors were women. There were other women besides Ms. Mathews who filed for patents in their husbands’ names.So when did female inventors break through the gender barrier?Mary Kies is believed to be the first known woman to receive a patent when she patented her process of weaving straw with silk in 1809. Ms. Kies did not receive a patent number for her invention, though, because the patent office didn’t issue patent numbers until 1836. Approximately 10,000 non-numbered patents were issued prior to 1836, and most of those were lost when a fire destroyed the patent office building that year.The first African American woman to receive a U.S. patent was Sarah Goode in 1885. Goode owned a furniture store in Chicago when she patented a cabinet bed.In 1890, fewer than one percent of U.S. patents were issued to women. By 2002, that number had risen to fifteen percent.In 1991, Gertrude Elion became the first woman inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, which is located in Akron, Ohio. Elion and her colleague George Hitchings created drugs to fight leukemia,gout, malaria, herpes and AIDS. Altogether, she was involved with 45 patents and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988.Ms. Elion wasn’t the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, though. That honor went to Marie Curie in 1903. It was another woman, Bertha von Suttner, who helped convince Alfred Nobel to establish a Nobel Prize for Peace, which she won in 1905. Altogether, 31 women have won the various Prizes since they were established in 2001.Red, White & True Mysteries Celebrate Women’s History Month With These InventorsIt probably comes as nosurprise that women inventedthe first washing machine andthe first dishwasher since womendid nearly all of the houseworkin those days, but women alsoinvented the Kevlar ® used in bulletproof vests, as well as fireescapes, laser printers, Liquid Scotchgard ® and the COBOL computer language, just to name a few.Who was it who told me that in 1890 fewer than one percent of U.S. patents wereissued to women?The former editor of Inventor’s Digestmagazine who – you guessed it – is a woman.Paper ®,JOIN US• Expand Your Business Connections• Collaborate With Like-Minded Women • Attend Lunch & Learns• Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies• Provide Networking & Social Events• Building RelationshipsASSOCIATIONConnecting, Supporting&EmpoweringRegister today for our next event atWomen In Businesswww.stoneoakladiesba.comor all (210) 421-607612www.stoneoakhighlights.comMarch 2022

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