Ingenious women

"Innovation made by Women"

Often the question of who invented it is not so easy to answer. According to the pdf-Datei patent specification DE 37435, the world's first car was invented by Carl Benz. Without his wife Bertha we would probably not know anything about it today. Because Bertha Benz had the faith and the courage and undertook, not without risk, about 130 years ago the first car journey of the world. This proved the suitability of the car for everyday use and paved the way for the worldwide success of the invention. It was only later that she received the recognition she deserved: on her 95th birthday she was appointed honorary senator by the Technical University of Karlsruhe.

Lise Meitner, on the other hand, was no longer able to witness the appreciation of her pioneering achievements in the discovery of nuclear fission. Although she was nominated 48 times for the Nobel Prize, she never received it. It was only in the past two decades that Lise Meitner finally received the recognition she deserved in the public eye: Streets and schools were named after her, as were prizes, elements and asteroids.

Bertha Benz, Lise Meitner and many other examples of visionary inventors show that there is still much to do before we have really achieved a fair and equal society.

On our pages on "ingenious women" you will therefore find researchers and inventors who still serve as role models today.

Women and IP
Accelerating innovation and creativity

This year's "World Intellectual Property Day" was dominated by women: Almost half of the world's population is female, but women file significantly fewer patents than men. This needs to change, because women shape the world with their ingenuity and female perspective on things. Together with our cooperation partners, the patent information centers, we present women inventors, designers and trademark owners from all over Germany. The good news is that there are many of them and they have put very different ideas into practice. Let yourself be inspired and come along on an exciting journey through Germany with the "Women in IP".

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International Women's Day 2023
Inventing a fairer world together

On the occasion of "International Women's Day 2023", representatives from several patent offices around the world will meet at the "United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)" in Alexandria from March 7 - 9. One of the main topics will be how to encourage women to become more visible with their innovations. Only if more women have their innovations protected by patents, trademarks and designs will we succeed in making the world a more sustainable and fairer place.

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Rosalind Franklin
Cheated out of world fame?

In April 1953, Francis Crick and James Watson revealed the blueprint of life: the structure of DNA. In 1962, they received the Nobel Prize for their discovery. For years they kept quiet about the fact that their findings were largely based on the preliminary work of Rosalind Franklin.

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Henrietta Vansittart
In the name of the father

Her name was almost forgotten, but today Henrietta Vansittart has a firm place in the history of technology: she was one of the first women in Europe to work publicly as an engineer and inventor. Her ship's propeller is considered an important nautical invention of the 19th century.

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Margarete Steiff
Toy inventor and fighter for a self-determined life

The "Knopf im Ohr" ("Button in Ear") is one of the most traditional German brands. Yet its founder Margarete Steiff had to overcome health hurdles before she could become a successful entrepreneur. She was born on July 24, 1847 in Giengen an der Brenz in Württemberg and would have celebrated her 175th birthday these days.

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Melli Beese
Germany's first female pilot

Melli Beese was the first woman to acquire a „Flugzeugführerlizenz“. Germany's first female pilot had to overcome enormous resistance before she passed the exam on 13 September 1911. The aviation pioneer, constructor and entrepreneur fought for her place in history - as a figure who was as brave as she was tragic.

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Coco Chanel
The designer of the century

50 years ago, on January 10, 1971, the world's most influential fashion designer died in Paris: Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. Her life story is as exciting as her professional success is breathtaking. In the "Time" magazine list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, she is the only designer represented.

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Four women get Nobel Prizes 2020
Gene Scissors, Black Holes & Poetry

Four women will receive a Nobel Prize this year - an extraordinary achievement in the history of this award. Andrea Ghez is only the fourth woman to get the Physics award in almost 120 years. In Chemistry, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna share the prize. In addition, Louise Glück, a lyricist, receives the award for Literature.

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Hedy Lamarr

Birthday of Hedy Lamarr / Day of the inventor
Ingenious femme fatale

Hollywood star, "most beautiful woman in the world", inventor: Hedy Lamarr was one of the most dazzling women of the 20th century. She embodied the beauty ideal of her time, was a scandalous superstar - and author of a visionary patent.

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JoAnn Morgan

Apollo's women
Heroines in the background of the moon landing

Everybody still knows the name of the first man on the moon. But only a few people knew until recently that some women had also played a decisive role in the millennium project of the lunar landing. In recent years, the names of some of these heroines have become known to a wider public. We present some of them in a small series.

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Porträt Salas

Winner of the European Inventor Award 2019
Margarita Salas Falgueras – tracking DNA

Her invention is used in oncology, at archaeological sites and for solving crimes, throughout the world: Spanish scientist Margarita Salas invented a fast, simple and reliable way to replicate traces of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing.

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Historic advertisment for one of Paulus´ shows

150th birthday of Käthe Paulus
Aviation pioneer, acrobat, inventor

Käthe Paulus was a dazzling figure: courageous pioneer of aviation, daring acrobat, clever inventor and lifesaver: 150 years ago, on 22 December 1868, the developer of the modern parachute was born in Zellhausen near Offenbach.

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Nobel Prize ceremony 2017

Nobel Prize 2018
Three women awarded - Prizes for Physics and Chemistry for female researchers

On 10 December, the Nobel Prizes for 2018 will be presented in Stockholm. What is particularly remarkable about this year's award ceremony is that two women will be honoured in the natural sciences at the same time: Donna Strickland in physics, Frances Arnold in chemistry. This is an absolute rarity in the Academy's award policy.

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Portrait Lovelace

Ada Lovelace
Against all odds: The overture of the age of computer

She never completely fell into oblivion as she was the daughter of a famous man. But it took more than 100 years after her death until her own achievements were recognized and Ada Lovelace finally became famous because of them.

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Fibre structure

Stephanie Kwolek
The inventor of the "super fiber"

In 1968, the German Patent Office received the patent application DE 1810 426 with the designation "Mass and fibres or threads made from it". What is described in the disclosure document on 144 pages is a super fibre, five times as strong as steel. It was invented by Stepahnie Kwolek, who was born a 100 years ago.

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Lise Meitner, ca 1930

Died 50 years ago: Lise Meitner
The bypassed pioneer

There have always been controversial decisions in the history of the Nobel Prizes. One of the Academy's biggest omissions is that it has repeatedly ignored Lise Meitner in awarding the prizes - despite 48 nominations!

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Benz Patent-Motorwagen

First car ride in the world
With hatpin, garter and 3 HP: Bertha Benz´ drive into the future

On August 5, 1888, a woman heralded the era of the automobile: Without Bertha Benz, the history of mobility would have been different. On that day, she took her first longer trip by car. And proved to her husband and the rest of the world that his invention was suitable for everyday use and had the potential to change everything.

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Melitta Kaffeefilter No. 1

110 years coffee filter
Melitta Bentz, inventor and entrepreneur

110 years ago, a utility model was registered at the Kaiserliches Patentamt in Berlin, which is important in several respects: Firstly, the applicant was one of the first women to have her own invention personally protected. On the other hand, this invention was extremely successful and is still present in practically every household.


Gertrude Elion

100th birthday of Gertrude Elion
A life devoted to pharmaceutical research

One of the most important pharmaceutical researchers of the 20th century would have celebrated her 100th birthday these days: Gertrude Belle Elion. The Nobel laureate of 1988 developed some of the most important drugs of our time and revolutionized both the development of new pharmaceuticals and medicine in general.

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Bilder:, MGM / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons, Nobel Media AB, Public Domain,, Archiv der Max Planck Gesellschaft, via Wikimedia Commons, Landesstelle für Museumsbetreuung Baden-Württemberg

Last updated: 14 August 2023