Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of current and past members of the Department of Commerce during Women's History Month.
Women inventors and scientists have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history, but why is it that many people are unable to name one female inventor, but can easily recall male inventors or scientists such as Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein?
Take one woman inventor for example. Actress Hedy Lamarr was best known for her work in Hollywood during MGM's Golden Age, starring in such films as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), White Cargo (1942), and Samson and Delilah (1949). But Lamarr also worked with Hollywood composer George Antheil to invent and patent a frequency hopping technique that today is referenced as an important development in the field of wireless communications. Lamarr and Antheil's frequency hopping reduced the risk of detection or jamming of radio-controlled torpedoes.
Commemorating Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme of “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) long-time private sector partner, has developed an impressive display featuring women inventors in the atrium of the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The colorful pictorial exhibit highlights the accomplishments of ten innovative women for their breakthrough contributions and inspiration, empowering current and future generations of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In addition to inventors such as Hedy Lamar, the exhibit showcases women innovators of all ages, from Made by Girls Scholar Landri Drude, who participated in Camp Invention, to Elizabeth Hunter, who was a finalist in the Collegiate Inventors Competition. These women are vital role models and contributors to the fabric of American innovation and technology.
In today’s innovation-based economy, it is important to remove barriers and expand opportunities for women in STEM. Through the All in STEM Initiative, the USPTO is encouraging women at all stages of their lives to pursue STEM degrees and work in STEM careers for the benefit of our economy and society. Follow the USPTO on Twitter and keep up with our efforts through #AllinSTEM and #PeopleofPTO.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame is dedicated to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and challenging collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. NIHF has served more than one million children and 125,000 educators and interns, and awarded more than $1 million to college students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors. Visit the NIHF Museum located at the USPTO in Alexandria, VA, renovated last year, and discover more inspirational stories of invention.