canadian scientists & inventors

The Daughters of Invention workshop was developed by the Women Inventors Project as full day session for girls in grades 7 to 10. In addition to providing female role models, we hoped to improve the confidence of young women in hands-on work, and, by emphasizing the creative aspects of science and technology, to make these fields more attractive to young women.

Presenting students with information on women inventors and demonstrating to young women that they can use their creativity to solve practical problems has many benefits. It builds self-confidence, increases interest in science and technology and ultimately increases the level of innovation in Canada.

The workshop consists of three main parts:

  • Tales of a woman inventor, a talk by a woman inventor about her invention and what it has meant in her life.

  • Inventing inventors, a small group activity in which participants talk about stereotypes of women in the media and how these affect their own lives. They then make collages illustrating a woman inventor.

  • Hands-on inventing, a session in which participants are given a wide choice of found" materials and the chance to invent. The immediate response of participants at the original (and subsequent) workshops has been very positive. About 75% have rated it as excellent and all indicate that the workshop would help other girls. In addition to having fun, participants have come up with a lot of good ideas, including a solar- heated rabbit hutch, an organizer for sheet music, and a device for holding the receiver in a wall- mounted telephone so it doesn't dangle while on "hold".

Since the original workshop, we have tried many variations on the general theme, including a shorter version that takes only an hour and a half. In this version students see a variety of inventions by women, watch a brief video clip on how new products get to market, do some brainstorming exercises, and then participate in a short hands-on inventing session. Both all-girls and mixed sessions have been run, but most girls have indicated a preference for the all-girls format. Their reasons are revealing:

"Girls can be more themselves with other girls and not boys."
"They [boys] wouldn't work as seriously."
"They'll confuse us and nothing would be done right."
"Boys spoil the moment."

Some girls also felt that it was unfair for them to have an opportunity the boys did not have, and hoped that sessions could be run for boys too.

The Women Inventors Project has developed many materials on women inventors which can be helpful in developing girls' and women's inventive creativity. These include:

Back Contents Next