Meet The First 2 Black Women To Be Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall Of Fame

Meet the First Two Black Women to Be Inducted Into National Inventors Hall Of Fame
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Although the National Inventors Hall of Fame is around for almost five decades, it hasn't had any Black women until now.

The nonprofit announced that Marian Croak, an engineer, and Dr. Patricia Bath, a late ophthalmologist will be part of the next class of inductees. This honor has been given to 600 other living and deceased innovators.

NPR was informed by a spokesperson that the hall of fame has 48 female inductees, and 30 Black inductees.

"Innovation is a driving force in the global economy and improves our quality life. This is evident given the events of the last 18 months," Michael Oister (CEO, NIHF) stated in a statement. It's why the National Inventors Hall of Fame is privileged to recognize the country's most important inventors. They are inspiring the next generation to invent, create, solve, and innovate.

Croak and Bath will be among the seven honorees this month. They join the 22 others who were announced last year to make up the Hall of Fame's Class 2022. All 29 honorees will be honored and inducted in back-to-back ceremonies held in Alexandria, Va., as well as Washington, D.C. in May.

These trailblazers are here to tell you everything.

Bath, a pioneering ophthalmologist, was instrumental in the development of cataract surgery.

Bath, who was 76 years old when he died in 2019, was not a stranger to history.

According to the NIHF she is the first Black female doctor to be granted a medical patent. She also became the first Black woman to finish a residency in ophthalmology in New York University.

Laserphaco was invented by Bath. It is a minimally invasive technique and device that can perform all steps of cataract removal from incision to destruction to vacuuming out any fragments.

According to Bath's National Inventors Hall of Fame biography she had the idea in 1981. She published her first paper in 1987. In 1988, she received her first U.S. Patent for the device. By 2000, it was in use throughout Europe and Asia.

Another press release states that "Bath's technique employed a faster method and established the foundations for eye surgeons who use lasers for improving or restoring vision for millions more patients suffering from cataracts around the world."

Over the course of her career, Bath was awarded five patents. She advocated for public health strategies to eliminate preventable blindness, particularly among racial minority groups.

As a young intern at Harlem Hospital, she observed that half the Harlem patients were visually impaired or blind. At Columbia, however, this was only half. This led her to conclude that Blacks are more likely to be blind than whites.

She proposed the concept of Community Ophthalmology in 1976. This combines community medicine and public health to provide eye care for underserved communities.

She was co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness and the Ophthalmic Assistant Training Program (UCLA), whose graduates have been involved in blindness prevention.

"To know my mother is in the 2022 class of National Inventors Hall of Fame Irductees, is an incredible honor," Dr. Eraka Bath stated in a statement. She said that the recognition of her mother's achievements was "overdue."

Find out more about Bath.

Marian Croak, a tech pioneer, has made remote work possible

Croak is currently the Research Center for Responsible AI & Human Centered Technology at Google. She has over 200 patents.

Her work in Voice over Internet Protocol, (VoIP), focuses on the conversion of voice data into digital signals that are transmitted over the internet instead of phone lines. She has also advanced audio and video conference capabilities.

Technology is essential for remote work, conferencing and collaboration.

Croak was a member of the team that created a text to donate system for charity donations. It raised $130,000 after Hurricane Katrina, and $43million after Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010. Her team brought broadband to developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Croak is a Google racial justice specialist and encourages girls and women to study engineering, according to the NIHF biography.

Croak stated in a recent interview that she has been working with Google to explain her interest in the field. She said her passion started at age 5, or 6. When she was a child, Croak would go to work and learn from plumbers and engineers around her home.

Now, fast forward to the late 1990s when Croak worked at AT&T. She started work on VoIP. Critics believed that no one would use the "toy-like" technology. It was initially not very reliable, but Croak's team made significant progress and AT&T started using it for their core network. This achievement was even more thrilling because of all the criticisms and doubts she had to face along the way.

Croak advised aspiring inventors not to give up and to listen to feedback. She noted how that had impacted her career. Croak said that she is humbled and grateful to have been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She was especially proud of the class that features the first Black woman.

She shared her thoughts on Google's blog, "I find it inspires people to see someone who looks like them on some dimension." People also see me as a normal person, which I believe inspires them to achieve their goals. It may seem difficult, but they can overcome them and it will all be worth it.

Find out more about Croak.