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Black women will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the first time

Marian Croak and the late Dr. Patricia Bath will be joining the next class of inductees.

Marian Croak Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Black women will finally be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

According to CNN, Marian Croak and the late Dr. Patricia Bath will be joining the next class of inductees — alongside the creators of ibuprofen, the Super Soaker toy and the sports bra. Croak and Bath will become the first Black women to earn a spot in the prestigious group.

Croak, who is currently a vice president at Google, invented Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows users to make calls over the internet rather than a phone line. She also holds over 200 patents. “I find that it inspires people when they see someone who looks like themselves on some dimension, and I’m proud to offer that type of representation,” she said earlier this month, while speaking about the induction.

Bath, who passed away in 2019, created a device that was used in surgeries to easily extract cataracts. She was also the first Black woman doctor to receive a patent, the first woman chair of an ophthalmology residency program, the first woman staff member of the ophthalmology department at UCLA and one of the first researchers to determine that glaucoma disproportionately affected Black people.

Erika Jefferson, the founder of Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE), said their induction is “bittersweet” because Bath is no longer alive to receive the honor and it has taken almost 50 years for Black women to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“There are thousands of Patricia Baths and Marian Croaks that have blazed trails, but have not been ‘discovered’ yet,” Jefferson said. “It’s not enough to see these two phenomenal women get this award. There have to be advocacy systems in place to ensure they get the recognition and support that they deserve.”

There are 610 inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 48 of them are women and 30 of them are Black. There are even fewer Latino and Asian inventors, said Rini Paiva, executive vice president for selection and recognition at the National Inventors Hall of Fame. “We recognize we need more diversity among our inductees,” Paiva said. “But we are committed to taking steps to ensure we consistently honor Black inventors.”

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