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Women Inventors and Discoverers

This guide provides links to resources on women who played leading roles in creating new inventions and making discoveries.

Introduction

Introduction

[Marie Skłodowska Curie, half-length portrait, seated, facing right]. [between 1890 and 1934]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Historically, the female presence in technological and scientific fields has been disproportionately limited compared to that of their male counterparts. Even when women have contributed to these fields, publications describing their work have been limited.

Margaret Rossiter, a pioneering historian of American women in science, argued that since the field of history of science and technology had been dominated by male players, the interest in writing about female contributions to these fields has also been limited. However, these tendencies have been gradually changing in recent years. More and more women enter fields of science and engineering, as well as the history of science and technology, and an increasing number of universities are now working towards attracting more women in science and engineering. Primary schools are also making an extra effort to bring girls into fields of science and engineering from a young age.

This guide covers selected books, journal articles, and historical works, and other resources especially useful to readers who are future women engineers, scientists, inventors, and patent seekers.

Print Resources

The Library of Congress holds a variety of books on the topics of science, technology and engineering and the women who have made leaps and bounds in these fields. The following books are of general interest on the topic, and also list several books on individual female inventors and the contributions that they made for the progress of this country and the world.

To discover for more works about individual inventors, search in the Library of Congress Online Catalog under the name of the inventor as a subject heading. For example:

Masterpieces

The books contained in this section are considered masterpieces as they are an overview of why women enter these fields and the way that they succeeded in their chosen occupations.

Historical Books

These books tell the history of female inventors, scientists and engineers. It contains several books about the US Patent Office and the patents that were filed by female inventors as well as those who participated in the world fairs.

Books for Young Readers

This section contains books for girls and young women who are interested in science and technology. These books talk about famous female inventors, engineers and women in the technology field along with opportunities and careers for those interested in the topics of science and engineering.

Biographies

Journal Articles

This section contains articles that are both historically and presently relevant on the history of women in the science, technology and engineering fields.

Selected Internet Resources

This section contains links to several other government and outside organizations and their information and celebration of women in the science, technology and engineering fields.

General Patent Information

Selected Webcasts

Women in STEM Careers: Celebration of Women's History Month

DESCRIPTION: Special guests from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lead a program designed to inspire young people to be curious and passionate about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Svetlana Kotliarova, cancer researcher and scientific review officer, and Yuri Kotliarov, staff scientist at the Center for Human Immunology at NIH, highlighted items from the "Scientific Data: Observing, Recording, and Communicating Information" Primary Source Set from the Library's Teachers page and data analysis using the Library's Chronicling America newspaper collections.
EVENT DATE: March 8, 2018
RUNNING TIME: 63 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View transcript

Women in Science

DESCRIPTION: In honor of Women's History Month, Svetlana Kotliarova discussed the scientific process with Fifth-graders from Hendley Elementary School in Washington, D.C. She read a book about women in science and spoke about her difficult childhood in Russia and her education there and in Japan.
EVENT DATE: 2017/02/28
RUNNING TIME: 64 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript

Women in Science and Engineering

DESCRIPTION: To honor women who have taken the lead in the environmental or "green" movement, the National Women's History Project chose "Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet" as the 2009 theme for National Women's History Month. In celebration, a panel discussion on "Women in Science and Engineering" was held at the Library. The moderator and featured panelist was Carol Burger, associate professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Tech and coordinator of the university's Science and Gender Equity Program.
EVENT DATE: March 12, 2009
RUNNING TIME: 62 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript