She’s Important Too: African American Female Inventors Part 1

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s new book “What Color is My World” contains a wonderful collection of black inventors, but only has one female in the book. When I listened to “Tell Me More,” a show on NPR, I cringed when he answered why he did not include more black female inventors. His omission and lack of knowledge of other black female inventors and their significant accomplishments ignited a spark within me to educate my daughters and others about black women inventors.

Albert Gygorgyl once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” I believe, inventors recognize an unfulfilled need and provide solutions, they are true visionaries in our communities and our world.

Below I only highlight a few prolific black female inventors, but it is my desire to share more in the future.


Janet Emerson Bashen

Janet Emerson Bashen

Bashen is the first black female to hold a patent for a software invention, LinkLine. Her software organizes and simplifies intake and tracking, claims management, document management and other reports. She is the founder, President, and CEO of Bashen Corporation, which is a human resources consulting firm that pioneered end-to-end Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) compliance administration services. Additional resource

Dr. Patricia Bath

Dr. Patricia Bath

An internationally renown Ophthalmologist. Bath holds a total of 3 patents which were awarded in 1988, 1998, and 1999 for a creating a laser apparatus used during eye surgery of cataractous lenses, she created a unique method and apparatus for ablating and removing cataract lenses (source). Her invention was ground breaking and gives sight to some who were blind due to Cataracts. Click here to listen to Dr. Bath describe Laserphaco, a technique she created in which “laser energy rather than ultrasound energy is used to fragment the lens nucleus.”

Marie V.Brittan Brown

Marie V.Brittan Brown

In 1969 Brown was awarded a patent for one of the first Home Security Systems. Her system had a set of four peep holes, a motorized camera that slid up and down, and anything the camera picked up appeared on a monitor screen. Thus, Brown along with her husband, Albert Brown, are credited with inventing the first Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance. She also improved upon her invention by creating a remote control that could unlock a door. Additional resource

Ruane Sharon Jeter is an Inventor & Sr. Industrial DesignerRuane Sharon Jeter and Shelia Lynn Jeter

Hold one patent together. They are true visionaries who knew how to materialize their thoughts.

In 1987 Ruane Sharon Jeter was awarded the patent for creating a non lever driven toaster. Together (nonexclusive) they have been credited with holding patents for:

  • Non lever driven toaster
  • Hand-held, multi-functional devices in one housing
  • Food pan cover with an elastomeric seal
  • Tray holder
  • Container installing system
  • Scalpel
  • Disposable scalpel
  • Safety scalpel handle
  • Medical waste container
  • Medical waste disposal container
  • Cartridge for powder and liquid drug
  • Drug delivery device having cartridge with enlarged distal end
  • Medical injector with coupled body portions
  • Container for injection device with injection needle
  • Self-injection device with multi-position cap
  • Combined cabinet with glove box and container for housing medical waste

Alice H. Parker

In 1919 Alice Parker was issued a patent for improving the heating furnace. Her invention conserved energy and made it possible for us to have central heat. Parker created a mechanism for regulating heat, which made it possible for heat be carried to various rooms of a building by the use of multiple burners, which was controlled by an on and off switch.

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