Patents have been a hot topic lately in the news and in Washington, D.C., so it’s an opportune time as we celebrate National Inventor’s Day to step back and remember the people behind the patents. After all, each patent is more than just a legal document – it represents the hard work and ingenuity of some of our world’s brightest minds. Looking through the annals of invention history, though, it’s clear that society is missing out. There is no shortage of problems to solve through invention, but women are underrepresented in the effort. 

Invention Starts with STEM

Exceptions include Hedy Lamarr and Ada Lovelace, but invention has been largely a male endeavor throughout history. It’s not hard to see why. Girls face pressure that says it isn’t cool to be smart and that they aren’t as good as their male peers at science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) – the cornerstones of modern invention. As the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, I’ve seen first-hand how some of these influences can play out. When we overcome them, we’re unlocking half of the world’s inventive brainpower.

 
That’s one of the reasons Intellectual Ventures supports STEM education organizations like FIRST Robotics and Expanding Your Horizons. The latter focuses specifically on encouraging girls to explore their passion for STEM-related fields. Writing a check to support these organizations is great, but it’s not enough. We know that the most important resource we have is our talented people who live this passion for STEM every day. Girls need mentors to bring out their own interest in STEM and to show them that they could hold the answers to some of the world’s most intractable problems.
 
When it comes to our business at IV, we like to say that it starts with invention. On a broader scale, it’s important to realize that invention starts with STEM education. As we take a day to remember great inventors in history, I hope you’ll also consider the opportunity of invention and how we can benefit from all of the ingenuity the world has to offer.
 

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