The Woman Inventor

Inventors and innovators are a unique breed. Creative Innovation would like to spotlight those people who have helped change the course of history. Or simply made life better and easier through their innovative products, designs or processes. We’ll start with the editor of The Woman Inventor, Charlotte Odlum Smith, a woman who tirelessly worked to champion the rights and accomplishments of women inventors.

Champion of Women Inventors – Charlotte Odlum Smith

Smith wasn’t an inventor herself, but she had a passion for women inventors. This passion was fueled by her friend, inventor Mary S. Mary who created 53 inventions, including some on mechanical devices, but lacked the money and knowledge to get them to market. She ended up selling them for as little as $5.00 a piece to men who had the finances and connections to get them launched. The men went on to patent the ideas in their own names and enjoy great financial rewards. Mary S. died penniless and was buried in a pauper’s grave. But before her death she begged Smith to make sure justice was done to women inventors.

How many women inventors are there?

The first thing Smith did was to ask the patent office for a list of women inventors from the time the office opened in 1790. She wanted to see for herself how many women inventors were out there. This request would prove to be more daunting than she imagined. It took 10 years to obtain the list. To this day fewer than 4% of women are single patent holders.

Government Help for Women Inventors

She also urged the government to reduce the fees inventors had to pay. She asked that they reward patent holders with money to improve their inventions.


For women inventors she asked the government to extend protection to women patent holders and that they prosecute those who infringe upon the patents. She also asked for a permanent display at the Patent Office honoring women’s inventions. She also wanted an open invitation for women to attend an inventor’s association at the Patent Office centennial.

The Woman Inventor

Charlotte Smith continued her fight for women inventors as the editor of The Woman Inventor until the day she died. For someone who was always in the spotlight where everyone knew her name, she died alone and was buried in an unmarked grave. But her sacrifice and dedication live on in the hearts of women inventors.

Government support for women inventors

Governments can support women inventors in various ways to promote gender equality and encourage innovation. Some of the ways in which governments can help women inventors include:

Funding and grants

Governments can provide funding opportunities and grants specifically targeted at women inventors. These financial resources can help women entrepreneurs and innovators pursue their ideas, develop prototypes, and bring their inventions to market.

Training and mentoring programs

Establishing training and mentoring programs can offer women inventors the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their ventures. These programs may cover areas such as product development, marketing, intellectual property protection, and business management.

Patent support

Assisting women inventors with the patent application process can be beneficial. Governments can provide guidance, reduce application fees, or offer incentives for women to secure intellectual property rights for their inventions.

Access to networks and resources

Governments can facilitate connections between women inventors and industry experts, investors, and potential partners. Providing access to innovation hubs, incubators, and networking events can help women inventors expand their support networks and gain valuable contacts.

Advocacy and recognition

Governments can promote and celebrate the achievements of women inventors, shining a spotlight on their contributions to innovation and technology. This recognition can help inspire other women to pursue careers in STEM fields and entrepreneurship.

Gender-inclusive policies

Implementing policies that promote gender equality in the workplace and the business environment can indirectly support women inventors. These policies may include family-friendly leave policies, flexible work arrangements, and efforts to address gender bias and discrimination.

Research and data collection

Governments can invest in research and data collection to better understand the challenges faced by women inventors and entrepreneurs. This information can inform targeted policies and initiatives to address specific barriers.

Public procurement

Governments can encourage the inclusion of women-owned businesses, including those led by women inventors, in public procurement processes. Setting aside a portion of contracts for women-owned businesses can create more opportunities for female innovators to showcase their products and services.

It’s important to note that the level of support provided by governments may vary across different countries and regions. Supporting women inventors and entrepreneurs is crucial for fostering a diverse and thriving innovation ecosystem. By addressing gender disparities and providing the right resources and opportunities, governments can play a significant role in encouraging women’s participation and success in the world of invention and innovation.

If you’re not able to get funding through government sources or crowdfunding, don’t wait around. Do it yourself like I did. Yes, it took many years working multiple jobs, but now I own the company 100% and don’t owe money to anyone. Grants and crowdfunding are best because you don’t have to pay it back. But don’t sit on your inventions waiting for someone else to give you funding. If you do, eventually someone else will come up with the same idea and get it out on the marketplace.