By Alison McMillan PhD and Christy Grobbler PhD

Power change: Women in innovation and creativity

World Intellectual Property day was established by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2000 to “raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life” and “to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe”.  The specific date of 26 April was chosen for World Intellectual Property Day because it coincides with the date on which the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization entered into force in 1970.

Each year, a message is associated with the event.  This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign celebrates the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.

Many male inventors such as Alexander Graeme Bell, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are household names.  However, many women have also contributed to, and are contributing to, ground-breaking ideas in science and technology.  For example:

Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014) — a polymer chemist, worked for DuPont for 40 years and invented Kevlar, a polyamide polymer that is used in military helmets and bulletproof vests, work-gloves, sports equipment, fiber-optic cables and building materials; and

Grace Hopper Howard Aiken — designed Harvard’s Mark I computer, a five-ton, room-sized machine in 1944. Hopper invented the compiler that translated written language into computer code and coined the terms “bug” and “debugging” when she had to remove moths from the device.

To celebrate the day, WIPO will be hosting a special screening of a movie that tells the story of Hedy Lamarr, a 1940s film idol, whose beauty and glamor overshadowed her true talent as an inventor.  Her work revolutionized telecommunications and during World War II she developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedos.

IP Gateway recognises and celebrates the contribution of Women to Science and Technology and wishes everyone a Happy Intellectual Property day on 26 April 2018.

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