Female Inventors Change the World

October 24, 2018

Did you know that 59% of the inventors who attended NICEE 2018 were female? It’s a number that we’re especially proud of — particularly since we didn’t need to do anything special to make it happen. We think it’s yet another proof point that if all kids are given the chance and are exposed to invention education, they all succeed!

Traditionally, females have been underrepresented in the inventor community — oftentimes simply because they weren’t given credit for their inventions! Our mission at the STEMIE Coalition is to make sure all kids are exposed to Invention Education at least once, better twice, before the graduate high school. When kids in underrepresented communities get the opportunities, they thrive!

One of our STEMIE staff volunteers, Emily Plachy, herself a retired IBM engineer, researched some famous (or should-be famous) female inventors, including perhaps the most written- and talked-about inventor from NICEE 2018, Audrey Larson, inventor of S.A.F.E. Kids. Read on to learn more about them.

Patricia Era Bath

According to Wikipedia, Ms. Bath , an American ophthalmologist, inventor, humanitarian, and academic was: “the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. The holder of four patents, she also founded the non-profit American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in Washington, D.C.”

Her patents relate to the treatment of cataracts. Her first three are related to your invention of the Laserphaco Probe, which uses lasers to treat and remove cataracts painlessly and without damaging the rest of the eye. Her fourth patent is for an ultrasound device which also treats patients with cataracts.

Ellen Ochoa

Dr. Ochoa is a former astronaut and is currently the Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center. She was the first Hispanic women to go into space as a crewmember onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1993.

She earned her doctoral degree at Stanford University, where she began her research into optical systems used in space exploration. She continued this research at the Sandia National Laboratory and the NASA Ames Research Center and was awarded a patent for an optical system for “removing defects” in repeating patterns and is a co-awardee for three further patents related to optical systems for space research.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca

IBM’s most prolific inventor, Ms Deluca filed her first patent in 2006; 300+ patents.

Ms. DeLuca is a Distinguished Engineer for IBM Watson Internet of Things. Lisa holds a Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, and a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University with minors in Business Administration and Multimedia Productions.

Inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame;  received an honorary PhD from Claremont Graduate University.

A profile of her on MIT Technology Review focuses in on the kinds of everyday problems she seeks to solve with her inventions: “Her inventions include a way for people on conference calls to get alerts when a certain topic comes up or a certain person starts talking; a system that can guide cell-phone users as they walk and talk so they don’t lose service; a necklace that lights up every time a given Twitter hashtag is used; and a locator service in cars that can track items like, say, a wallet that falls under the seat.”

In addition to all of her work at IBM, Ms. DeLuca is the mother of two sets of twins and the author of two children’s books.

Audrey Larson

Audrey Larson, a 9th grader from Wallingford, CT invented the Safe K.I.D.S. system, for which she was granted a Patent Application Award by WilmerHale. Audrey lives not far from the scene of the Newton school shooting tragedy, and that memory motivated her develop Safe K.I.D.S., a “foldable bulletproof panel designed to protect students and teachers from an active shooter.” Audrey was recently featured in The New Yorker magazine for this invention – one of her many.