7 Famous Girl Inventors to Inspire Young Women in STEM
Girl inventors are taking the world by storm. In an era where more girls are introduced to science, entrepreneurship, engineering and invention than ever before, these young female entrepreneurs are stepping up and solving the world’s problems.
While only 25% of STEM workers are female, the number of women getting STEM degrees has increased by over 50,000 graduates every year for the past decade, according to built by me. These numbers will only increase as more and more girls are introduced to STEM at a young age and learn all that they are capable of creating.
Ready to get inspired to create your own invention? These famous girl inventors are leading the way to a better world. You can be a part of that positive change too by supporting their work and furthering achievements in these important areas.
Ann Makosinski: Luminary & Girl Inventor
Photo source: TEDxTeen
At just 15 years old, Ann Makosinski invented the Hollow Flashlight. After hearing how a friend in the Philippines lacked the light to study at night, Ann knew she wanted to create a battery-free light source.
With just $26 spent on prototype materials, Ann was able to create a flashlight that runs off heat from the human hand.
Ann didn’t stop there. After the success of the Hollow Flashlight, Ann invented eDrink, a coffee mug that converts the drink’s excess heat into electricity for a boosted phone charge.
Ann won the 2013 Google Science Fair and garnered numerous awards at the International Intel Science and Engineering Fair. You can hear Ann talk about her inventions in numerous TEDx talks including the hallow flashlight and the problem with inventions.
Future Girl Inventors: What problems do you see your family and friends encounter every day? If you keep your eyes open, you can create a solution.
Gitanjali Rao: Changemaker & Girl Inventor
Photo source: Time Magazine
From a very young age, Gitanjali has been fascinated by science’s ability to create social change. In 7th grade, she put her dreams to work in order to help the people of Flint, Michigan battle the dangerous level of lead in their drinking water.
Gitanjali created a device called Tethys thats detects lead compounds in water and sends the ‘safe’, ‘slightly contaminated’ or ‘critical status to a smartphone app. Her prototype, that cost just over $20 for materials won the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and $25,000.
Named “America’s Top Young Scientist” Gitanjali created real change with her invention because of its increased accuracy and affordability. But that’s not all she’s done.
Gitanjali layered developed an app to detect and deter early signs on cyberbullying. In an interview following her Time Magazine Kid of the Year honor, Gitanjali explained kindly to guest reporter Angelina Jolie.
“You type in a word or phrase, and it’s able to pick it up if it’s bullying, and it gives you the option to edit it or send it the way it is. The goal is not to punish. As a teenager, I know teenagers tend to lash out sometimes. Instead, it gives you the chance to rethink what you’re saying so that you know what to do next time around.”
Future Girl Inventors: Your work can have real social impact. What challenges have you heard about in your life? How could you solve them?
Connect with Gitanjali on Linkedin
Erin Smith: Health Leader & Girl Inventor
Photo source: Wired UK
When Erin Smith noticed that Parkinson’s patients came off as emotionally distant when they laughed or smiled, she sought out to make a difference in health. After contacting numerous clinicians and caregivers, Erin learned that these facial expressions could be identified years before an Parkinson’s diagnosis was officially made.
This finding inspired Erin to create Faceprint, a self diagnostic system that finds disorders like Parkinson’s through analyzing a series of selfies. This invention could become an objective tool to discover and monitor Parkinson’s in a time where diagnoses have been purely subjective.
With a Thiel Fellowship from Stanford University and support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Erin continues her research. Erin’s goal “is to advance brain science discoveries and translate these findings from the lab to make them readily available and accessible.”
Future Girl Inventors: What health issues have you noticed around you? How could these health issues use improvement? Finding a cure is one thing. Creating comfort, diagnostic tools and caregiver solutions can also help!
Riya Karumanchi: Coding Creator & Girl Inventor
Photo source: Toronto.com
Motivated by the struggles of her friend’s visually imparied grandmother, Riya Karumanchi decided it was time for the white cane to evolve. With the skills to start coding, Riya got to work and created SmartCane.
With this device, visually impaired people will be able to identify more obstacles and navigate a safe route around them through ultrasonic sensor technology. SmartCane alerts users of an upcoming obstacle with a simple vibration and helps them get around it.
As part of a hard-working team, Riya raised almost six figures in funding and continues to develop SmartCane.
“Learning to code is not just a skill, but one of the most valuable creative tools you can use,” Riya noted in a 2019 reflections blog. “It can help you solve complex problems & create extraordinary things that people want. It’s not a hard, complex mathematical thing that only geniuses know how to use. Instead, it’s like tackling a fun challenge or puzzle.”
Future Girl Inventors: What skills do you have or could you learn to create a solution for the world?
Elif Bilgen: Ingenue & Girl Inventor
Photo source: Inhabitat
With a desire to reduce plastic pollution and a growing interest in science, Elif Bilgen got to work inventing a process to create bioplastic from banana peels. She’d learned that people in Thailand throw away 200 tons of banana peels per day and reasoned that this waste could be transformed into a means for waste reduction.
At just 14 years old, Elif spent two years conducting experiments and learning from failures. Finally, she entered her project in the Google Science Fair of 2013 and won several titles.
In an article about Elif, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American Mariette DiCristina noted, “Genius,’ Thomas Edison famously said, “is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” He would have found a kindred spirit in Elif Bilgin, 16, of Istanbul, winner of the 2013 Science in Action Award, part of the third annual Google Science Fair.”
Future Girl Inventors: What topics are you passionate about? What inventions are needed in these areas?
Rachel Zietz: Entrepreneur & Girl Inventor
Photo source: Florida Trend
With a love of lacrosse and a desire to improve her practice at home, Rachel Zietz created a high quality lacrosse goal and rebounder along with her own company to sell it at age 13.
After her own net broke, Rachel knew there was a market that needed good quality products at lower prices. She contacted a factory herself and developed stronger goals by adding to the thickness of the net and steel bars.
Rachel’s company took time to build but slowly grew as she sold her products at lacrosse tournaments. As her company began to receive notice by the media, her work took off eventually landing her on Shark Tank.
Her success in the business world earned Rachel honors such as Forbes 30 Under 30 and Fortune’s List of Entrepreneurs Under 18. She later went on to study at Princeton University in Economics.
Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn
Learn more about Gladiator Lacrosse
Anika Chebrolu: Health Leader & Girl Inventor
Photo source: CSF Journal
When 8th grader Anika Chebrolu learned about the enormous impact of the flu each year, she decided to search for a cure. Little did she know, her world was going to change due to a completely different virus.
Her project began working to utilize in-silico methods to find a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus. Anika told CNN, “After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this. Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Anika’s work to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus won her the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and $25,000. Though her discovery garnered much attention and accolade, Anika continued her work to search for a COVID-19 cure.
These famous girl inventors are here to show you that anything is possible. What are you passionate about and how can you make a difference? Today’s a great day to get started.