Throughout American history, women with diverse backgrounds and interests created inventions that changed lives every day. But women haven’t always had equal opportunities to be inventors or received as much recognition. The Smithsonian and the United States Patent and Trademark Office present Picturing Women Inventors, a poster exhibition that explores the inventions of 19 highly accomplished American women. Astronauts, computer pioneers, and businesswomen join athletes, engineers, and even teenagers in this remarkable group of inventors. The posters will be on view at the Rice Museum when it reopens to the public on Saturday, May 1, and throughout summer 2021.
Picturing Women Inventors showcases the breakthroughs, motivations, and challenges women encountered while pursuing their goals as inventors. The poster exhibition highlights stories of inventors like Marilyn Hamilton, who after a hang-gliding accident in 1978 left her paralyzed, invented a lightweight wheelchair that was easy to maneuver. Diversity of background and age are showcased including inventor Alexis Lewis, who at 12-years-old in 2011 was inspired to adapt a traditional Native American sled, called a travois, by adding wheels to create a simpler way to transport families and their belongings in Somalia.
Picturing Women Inventors is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, in collaboration with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and is sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies IF/THEN Initiative and Ericsson.