Marian Croak, a vice president at Google, and the late Dr. Patricia Bath, a laser scientist, will be the first two Black women to join the prestigious group.
For the first time since the National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973, Black women will join the next class of inductees. Marian Croak, a vice president at Google, and the late Dr. Patricia Bath, a laser scientist, will be the first two Black women to join the prestigious group. They will be inducted alongside the inventors of the sports bra, ibuprofen, and the Super Soaker toy. As of 2020, 610 inventors have been inducted, but they have been mostly White men. Croak and Bath's induction ushers in a new era of encouraging Black women to join the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, CNN reports.
"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." https://t.co/mrMilrC0s7— I Support The Girls (@I_Support_Girls) September 29, 2021
"She was always anchored in the community, always giving back, always trying to push the envelope," said Dr. Bath's daughter, Dr. Eraka Bath, of her late mother. "I'd say the obfuscation of her achievement is part of a larger narrative." Prior to her death in 2019, Dr. Bath was nominated to the National Inventors Hall of Fame approximately 11 times. According to her daughter, however, she may have been nominated several more times than that. She said her mother would often discuss the intersectional barriers she faced as a Black woman in STEM, particularly in her field of ophthalmology. Misogynoir was at the root of her experiences—from her residency days in Manhattan all the way to her tenure at UCLA, where she was appointed to its honorary medical staff following her retirement. Therefore, seeing Dr. Bath finally gain national recognition "is a win for girls" interested in science and engineering, her daughter reaffirmed.
Dr. Patricia Bath will be one of the FIRST Black women inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1986, the late doctor invented the Laserphaco Probe — an important surgical tool still used for minimally invasive cataract surgery today. https://t.co/rkIf2QtLIU— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 26, 2021
This is particularly true as she was a pioneer of "community ophthalmology," a type of eye care that prioritizes underserved patients. Dr. Bath supported Black patients and fellow physicians throughout her life, convincing her professors at Columbia University to perform free eye surgeries in Harlem when she took note of the poor quality of eye care Black patients were receiving. Now, as vice chair for UCLA Psychiatry's Office of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, her daughter continues her legacy by helping women and people of color advance their careers.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame will induct the first 2 Black women into its ranks — Marian Croak, whose inventions advanced audio and video conferencing, and the late Dr. Patricia Bath, who reshaped cataract surgery.https://t.co/XpWpQTppXv— NPR (@NPR) September 27, 2021
Meanwhile, Croak is breaking barriers for Black women in STEM. She holds over 200 patents and presently leads Google's Research Center for Responsible AI and Human-Centered Technology. Today, the reason many of us are able to hold video calls with our loved ones is because of technology she pioneered while employed as an engineer at AT&T in the 1990s: VoIP. Speaking with Google earlier this month about her induction, she said it was a "humbling" achievement, adding that she was proud to be one of the first two Black women inductees. Croak stated, "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."
Congratulations to Googler Marian Croak! The National Inventors Hall of Fame is honoring her advancement of the technology that powers online calls and video chats (i.e., how we all stayed connected through the pandemic). https://t.co/9x3iw94jF6— Google (@Google) September 24, 2021
Throughout the year, the National Inventors Hall of Fame campaigns to provide children and women of color in STEM opportunities and encourage invention. Despite this, only 48 of its 610 inductees are women, and only 30 of them are Black. There are even fewer Asian and Latino inventors (19 and five, respectively). Nonetheless, the group is committed to diversifying its class of inductees. "We recognize we need more diversity among our inductees," said Rini Paiva, executive vice president for selection and recognition at the National Inventors Hall of Fame. "But we are committed to taking steps to ensure we consistently honor Black inventors."
Presenting our National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Class of 2022! We honor these inventors whose creations have positively impacted and changed the world! Stay tuned for our Inductee feature weeks as we count down to our Induction Ceremony. https://t.co/z8jfiirj0c pic.twitter.com/oEqJ2dYmjA— Inventors HOF (@InventorsHOF) September 21, 2021