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Women Inventors

Published by IFIA
the International Federation of
Inventors' Associations

First published   August 23,  2002
Updated   August 24,  2002

© Farag Moussa: research and text.
Marie Curie-Sklodowska was awarded two Nobel Prizes: the physics prize in 1903 and the chemistry prize in 1911. Is that why she is so often portrayed on stamps (in France, of course, but even more so in Poland, her country of birth, and elsewhere too)? Or does it reflect her unique status, a woman - an extraordinary woman - a female phenomenon in the male-dominated world of inventors?

MarieCurie_Stamp.jpg (55019 bytes)           MarieCurie_Stamp_Poland.jpg (21247 bytes)

Indeed, stamps are not generous towards women inventors. I have searched for them. I have pored over the stamp catalogues of all the countries in the world. And I have only found women inventors on the stamps of two countries - and not industrialized countries as could have been expected, but… Sierra Leone and the Philippines.

Sierra Leone issued in 1995 a block of stamps commemorating nine women Nobel laureates, among them three inventors, a Frenchwoman, an American and Italian:
-Irčne Joliot-Curie (chemistry) - artificial radioactivity
-Rosalyn Yalow (medicine) - radioimmunology
-Rita Levi-Montalcini (medicine) - growth factor in nerve cells

Women_Stamps_NobelPrize.jpg (48186 bytes)

As for the Philippines, in 1993, it issued a pair of stamps for the fiftieth anniversary of the country's inventors' association. These stamps depict two inventions but do not mention the names of their inventors. As it so happens, I am personally acquainted with one of them and … she is a woman! To Magdalena Villaruz we owe the invention of a tool that might not automatically be associated with the fair sex: a motorized swampy field, rice paddies in particular. Magdalena_Villaruz_stamp.jpg (19380 bytes)



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