Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Day 42 Feb 11 .. Shocked that 5% of patent holders are female

When I heard that that February  11 was  National Inventor's Day  in the United States  started me thinking about women inventors.  We have all heard stories of inventions that we associate with men that were really invented by a women  or had a women as part of the team who whose contributions were not attributed.

Many of us would name Eli Whitney as the inventor of the cotton gin, but with a little digging you will find that Catherine Greene played a major role in this invention, yet the patent is in the name of Eli Whitney.

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Catherine Greene is said to have posed both the problem and the basic idea to Whitney. Furthermore, according to Matilda Gage, (, 1883), his first model, fitted with wooden teeth, did not do the work well, and Whitney was about to throw the work aside, when Mrs Greene proposed the substitution of wire to catch the cotton seeds.  Stories About Great Thinkers by Mary Bellis 
It is no surprise that there were few early inventors in a time when laws stipulated that women could not own property (including intellectual property like a patent)   Back in the 1700's any patent that was issued for an invention that was a women's invention would be in her father's or husband's name.

But really....s it has been more than 200 years since Mary Kies became the first American women to own a patent in her name (1809)  after developing a unique way of weaving straw and silk into hats.   Some attribute her with paving the way for other women.  You would assume that... but do a quick Google search and you will find that is not what happened.  

Hundreds of years later,   only 5.5% of all commercial patent holders in the US are female?

I don't have the answers.. I'm just sitting here in shock at the number..
I'm thinking this number (which has me speechless right now) is fodder for more blog post on the topic.

For for now.. on National Inventor's Day, I salute the  women in this country who own patents.  

And I'm off to

Why Don't Women Patent?
Jennifer HuntJean-Philippe GarantHannah HermanDavid J. Munroe

NBER Working Paper No. 17888
Issued in March 2012
NBER Program(s): LS PR

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