National Women Inventors Month


By Sharon Schweitzer

Women inventors have been saving our lives since before the 1700s. However, before then, women were not allowed to own property or apply for U.S. patents to copyright or trademark their work. Women often had to apply for patents using their husbands’ names, but that all changed in 1793 with Hannah Slater.

Slater was responsible for creating a new method of producing sewing thread from cotton. Taking a smoothly spun yarn made by her husband Samuel, Hannah and her sister used a hand spinning tool to spin it into a thread that turned out to be stronger than its previous substitute — linen. Slater applied for a patent within the same year, and it was issued in the name of Mrs. Samuel Slater.

Following shortly after was another weaving innovator called Mary Dixon. She was responsible for creating a new technique of weaving hats from straw with silk and thread. Following hat-making innovations of women like Betsy Metcalf, who started the American straw hat industry, Mary invented a cost-effective, reliable way of making work bonnets using silk and thread which led to her applying for a patent in 1809. She received her patent along with special recognition from First Lady Dolley Madison. Her original patent was sadly destroyed in a fire in 1836, a year before she passed away.

Over time, women have soared in science, technology, and several other fields, leading to a majority of inventions we still enjoy to date. Some innovations we owe to women today are the fire escape invented by Anna Connelly in 1887, the car heater invented by Margaret A. Wilcox in 1893, Monopoly invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904, computer programming invented by Grace Hopper in 1944, laser cataract surgery invented by Patricia Bath in 1986, amongst many others.

Here are some fun historical facts about some of these women:

Elizabeth Magie

Originally named ‘The Landlord’s Game’, what we now know as Monopoly was developed by Magie. Designed to mock capitalist greed and expose the hardships of living on rent, Magie received her patent in 1904. Though ripped off in 1934 by Charles Darrow and renamed Monopoly, Magie’s original patent made sure she was credited, and remembered as the inventor of the much-loved family game.

Grace Hopper

An inspiration to women in the field of science to this day, Hopper is credited with the invention of the Havard Mark I computer the size of a room and weighing five tons. Hopper is also accredited for coining the terms ‘bug’ and ‘de-bug’ after finding that the cause of disruption in her computer was an actual moth. Her role in translating language to computer code and teamwork to compile the first user-friendly programming language makes her one of the most important women in the development of modern technology.

Patricia Bath

Inventor of the Laserphaco Probe and first woman elected to the UCLA Medical Centre, Bath is a major name in the medical field. Her Probe removed cataracts which can lead to vision loss, and was far more effective, accurate and less invasive than methods that had tried previously. Founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in Washington, Bath’s contributions to ophthalmology must be honored.


Photo by

Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

#SharonSchweitzer, #AccesstoCulture, Access2Culture, #InternationalCelebration, #AccesstoAsia, #GlobalEtiquette, #Cross-CulturalTrainer, #InterculturalCommunication, #InternationalCommunication, #Interculturalist, #Etiquette, #CultureExpert, #Speaker, #KeynoteSpeaker, #WomenInventors, #Patents, #Inventions, #Science, #Medicine, #Technology #Entertainment