India: World Intellectual Property Day 2018: Powering Change: Women In Innovation And Creativity

Last Updated: 25 April 2018
Article by Singh & Associates

Most Read Contributor in India, December 2018

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained." -Marie Curie

So exhorted Madame Marie Curie, the first woman scientist to win noble prize in two different scientific disciplines and who is popularly known as "mother of modern physics" because of her pioneer work in research on radioactivity, where she established the nature of radiation and beta rays. She also discovered and isolated polonium and radium elements. It was the first time a woman inspired other women to help them innovate through their creative ideas and scientific inventions.

Innovation is not just about a creative idea, but it is the implementation of creative ideas in such a way that they can be mass marketed to better the lives of other people. Innovation and women empowerment go hand in hand. A 2017 report on Gender Equality found that the number of women in the science, technology and innovation fields was low in the world's leading economies. Women's long been fight to be recognized at par with men, though has brought about some balance amongst genders in some ways but gender equality is still a far cry. Women still struggle for equal opportunities in certain disciplines.

In her famous book - Nobel Prize Women in Science, author Sharon Bertsch McGrayne has written about 10 women and their struggles on their way to achieving the Nobel Prize.  In this book, the women Nobel Prize winners have talked about how they made their way forward amidst difficulties when no one was in favor of women education. They have spoken about even crawling behind furniture to attend classes. They have shared how Science was considered hard and rigorous whereas women were considered fragile. Hence, they were excluded from serious science and innovative works. Women scientists were even considered unnatural beings. No sooner did these women overcome one barrier and another cropped up.1

Breaking the barriers to women's creativity and helping to nurture their innovative ideas is the first step towards powering change in the field of innovation and creativity. Women need opportunities to innovate. They need education, finances, time and most of all inspiration.

In the past two decades several women scientists have come up with life changing innovations. Their contributions cannot be ignored. Women scientists match and even supersede male scientists at times. Karthik Ramaswamy, visiting scientist at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and a participant in the edit-a-thon, told The Hindu, "Science in India has a 'diversity problem' with Indian women and minorities represented inadequately.2 There are many women scientist who contributed to science and innovation but they are forgotten heroes".

The world of inventions worships male heroes. We all know inventors like Charles Babbage, the famous English mathematician who invented the world's first automatic digital computer, Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of telephone, Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of electric bulb, Benjamin Franklin inventor of bifocal glasses. But how many of us know the person who invented computer programming without which computers wouldn't be as efficient as they are - Computer programming was invented by a woman scientist - Grace Hoper. Stephanie Kwolek, another woman scientist, invented Kevlar, a material five times stronger than steel and which is used the world over to protect people from bullets.

Men have always been hailed as posterboys for achievements in the field of inventions. Most success stories related to showcase inventions are about male inventors, propagating the myth that women do not invent.

Unfortunately, this perception has propelled forward even in twenty first century and third technological revolution.  Such perceptions have historically denied women's contribution towards production of knowledge and their recognition as inventors. Since the 1800's, women have been fighting with determination to create equality between genders. Women's achievements are often overlooked when it comes to handing out praise. Ignoring the gender typecasts and prejudiced barriers that stood at every turn, female inventors have displayed a strong will and untiring perseverance.

The list of such female inventors is endless, however, on the occasion of World Intellectual Property Day 2018 with the theme – Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity, we are delighted to present here, an introduction to a handful of unsung female scientists and inventors, whose ingenuity has helped shape the world as we know it over the last couple of centuries.

  1. Asima Chatterjee

Asima Chatterjee, a chemist, is well known for her contributions in the development of cancer medicine, anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. Her contributions in the field of organic chemistry and phytomedicine are remarkable. She was the first woman to be named a Doctor of Science by an Indian University. She was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha by the President of India. She has inspired many women to follow in her footsteps and pursue careers that are not normally expected of women.

  1. Rajeshwari Chatterjee

Rajeshwari Chatterjee was the first woman engineer from Karnataka. In 1946, she was given a scholarship to study abroad, and studied at the University of Michigan where she obtained her master's degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering. After obtaining a Ph.D degree, she returned to India and joined the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering at IISc as a faculty member where she, along with her husband, set up a microwave research laboratory where they did pioneering work on Microwave Engineering.

  1. Darshan Ranganathan

She was an organic chemist from India who is known for her work in bio-organic chemistry, including "work in protein folding" and "supramolecular assemblies, molecular design, chemical simulation of key biological processes, synthesis of functional hybrid peptides and synthesis of nanotubes". She joined IICT, Hyderabad, in 1998, where she became the Deputy Director. After her death due to breast cancer in 2001, her husband instituted the biennial "Professor Darshan Ranganathan Memorial Lecture", which is "delivered by a woman scientist who has made outstanding contributions in any field of Science and Technology".

  1. Maharani Chakravorty

Maharani Chakravorty is a molecular biologist. She organized the first laboratory course on recombinant DNA techniques in Asia and the Far East in 1981. After her post-doctoral studies in the USA, she returned to the Bose Institute in Kolkata. Among her many accolades, she also received the Professor Darshan Ranganathan Memorial Award in 2007.

  1. Tessy Thomas

Known as the missile woman of India, she is one of the world's leading experts in ballistic missiles. She is the first woman to lead a missile team in India. She worked on Agni missile right from its inception and designed the guidance scheme for long range missiles. She is now a project director and technology director for Long Range Agni v missile and Mission Design and System analysis group of advanced systems laboratory, respectively.

  1. Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Louise Kwolek was an American chemist, whose career at the DuPont Company covered over forty years. She is best known for inventing the first of a family of synthetic fibres of exceptional strength and stiffness: poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide—better known as Kevlar. For her discovery, Kwolek was awarded the DuPont Company's Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement. As of February 2015, she was the only female employee to have received that honor. In 1995, she became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Kwolek won numerous awards for her work in polymer chemistry, including the National Medal of Technology, the IRI Achievement.3

  1. Bette Nesmith Graham

Bette Nesmith Graham, in 1950's while using one of the new electric typewriters in the office, felt the need of something that could allow her to correct the mistakes when the highly sensitive keys of typewriter resulted in typing unwanted letters. She discovered a quick drying paint that can be applied over the mistake and the paint so invented become famous as liquid paper. In 1979 she sold her company to Gillette Co. for $47.5 million.

  1. Margaret Knight

Margaret Knight was an exceptionally prolific inventor in the late 19th century; journalists occasionally compared her to her better-known male contemporary Thomas Edison by nicknaming her "the lady Edison" or "a woman Edison." Knight was born in York, Maine and was still a young girl when she began working in a textile mill in New Hampshire. After seeing a fellow worker injured by a faulty piece of equipment, Knight came up with her first invention: a safety device for textile looms. She was awarded her first patent in 1871, for a machine that cut, folded and glued flat-bottomed paper shopping bags, thus eliminating the need for workers to assemble them slowly by hand. Knight received 27 patents in her lifetime, for inventions including shoe-manufacturing machines, a "dress shield" to protect garments from perspiration stains, a rotary engine and an internal combustion engine.4

  1. Maria Telkes

In 1947, the Hungarian scientist invented the thermoelectric power generator to provide heat for Dover House, a wedge-shaped structure she conceived with architect Eleanor Raymond. Girl power, indeed!


1 Nobel Prize Women in Science by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne




The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions