Women Inventors: Hidden in History
Women Inventors: Hidden in History
At Harvard University, researchers have come up with the term “lost Einsteins.” This refers to the women, people of color, and poorer people who would have made important achievements, such as inventing, if they had had the opportunity.
There is no way to know how many would-be Einsteins the world has lost, but efforts are now being made to give every woman inventor a chance. This is important because, for a long time, people believed women were not suited for or capable of scientific and creative thought. This led many who may have been interested in science and technology to give up and focus on more “suitable” work. That is why sharing the stories of history’s heroines, and proving that women can and have contributed important inventions to the world, is so vital. (Pp. 6-7)
Women Inventors: Hidden in History is part of Crabtree’s new series “Hidden History”. The six books in the series are written by four different writers but have a consistent format and presentation. The books are organized into chapters by geographic locations – Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa. Only one of the books in the series specifically includes Australia.
Each book begins with a chapter titled “History’s Hidden Heroines” that gives context to the particular focus of endeavor of the women featured in the book and explains why we don’t know more about women’s achievements.
In addition to highlighting the contributions of women from a wide variety of geographic locations, Women Inventors also includes women from a broad range of time periods. For example, Maria Beasley received a patent for an improved life raft in 1882. Her improved life rafts are credited with saving “more than 120 lives on the Titanic alone”. A modern-day inventor, Omowunmi Sadik, born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1964, “works in one of the most exciting and cutting-edge areas of science today – nanotechnology”.
Each book in the series also includes additional information in text boxes labelled “HIDDEN HISTORY”. One of the boxes in Women Inventors highlights Yvonne Brill, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who patented a propulsion system for satellites in 1972 that is “still used today by satellites handling worldwide phone service and some television broadcasts”.
Hiding Her Genius
After Yvonne passed away in 2013, The New York Times published a tribute to her that began, “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” Many people couldn’t believe such an important newspaper would start an article on such an important woman like that. After the backlash, The New York Times rewrote the beginning of the article to read, “She was a brilliant rocket scientist who followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. (p. 41)
The information in Women Inventors is presented in bite-size chunks, easily read by middle school students. The simple graphic illustrations are likely to remind students of graphic novels. Numerous black and white and coloured reproductions of art, and historic and current photos support the text.
There is a short glossary, an index and a list of additional resources “about women who broke the rules and changed the world”. Women Inventors provides a rich wealth of information that is unlikely to duplicate anything you already have on your library shelves.
Dr. Suzanne Pierson has recently retired and is enjoying reading books and staying safe at home in Prince Edward County, Ontario.