Catherine Gray is a documentary film maker, producer, podcast host, and author. She is also the founder of She Angel Investors, a multi-media platform that connects female founders to funding resources. Catherine reflects on how groundbreaking inventions by women make the case for more funding for women founders and investors.
What would the world look like if we didn't have the inventions, cures, and solutions developed by women?
We wouldn't have refrigerators, car heaters, central heating, fire escapes, X-rays, computer programming, WiFi, or satellites. All those items that are part of our daily lives were invented by women.
American women have been inventing and innovating for hundreds of years. Here are just a few examples of which you may not be aware of:
- While America was still a colony, Sybilla Masters, possibly the first American machinery inventor, traveled to England in 1712 with the patent application for her invention of a corn mill. The patent was issued in her husband's name because women weren't allowed to hold patents.
- In 1903, Alabama real estate developer and rancher, Mary Anderson, invented windshield wipers.
- At the beginning of World War II, Austrian-American Actress Hedy Lamarr invented a radio guidance system for torpedoes that was the precursor to Bluetooth and WiFi.
- In the mid-1960s, Yvonne Brill invented the rocket propulsion system for launching satellites into orbit.
- In the 1970s American physicist Shirley Ann Jackson conducted breakthrough scientific research that enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.
And the innovation continues with hundreds of women creating solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
Women think differently than men. They see and often experience problems that men don't. They bring different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas to invent solutions that make a positive and impactful difference in our society.
However, with women receiving less than 3% of venture capital funding, how will women's inventions be funded? How many opportunities to positively impact the planet will be missed because women's ideas go unfunded?
Fortunately, investors are starting to realize they are leaving money on the table by not getting behind women. And while we are far from achieving gender equity in the funding universe, there is a promising trend in the increasing number of women investors: angels, partners at established venture firms, and women starting their own funds.
Research shows that investors tend to invest in people with whom they identify with. So, until recently–with mostly white men at the table–the recipients of the funding have looked the same. But that's changing. There are more VC funds being founded by women, and that is accelerating funding for women entrepreneurs. Beta Boom recently released a list of 50 female-focused funds, many of which are led by women investors.
So, the good news is…
More women investing means more capital invested in women innovators who are pursuing game-changing solutions that will positively impact our people and our planet. And that's how we can continue the more than two-hundred-year legacy of women leading the way in inventing new ideas to change our world and improve our lives.
Hear more from Catherine:
Watch her TedX Talk: https://youtu.be/Ms-tROEeLn4