Contrary to claims that nineteenth-century women did not contribute to inventive activity and that their work was insulated from technological progress, women inventors pursued profit opportunities and distributed patents in much the same way as their male counterparts whose patent rates responded to market incentives. Women in rural and frontier regions were especially inventive. A random sample of assignment contracts indicates that the rate at which women commercialized inventions kept pace with patenting. The evidence indicates that nineteenth-century women were active participants in the market for technology and suggests that the diffusion of household articles may have been more pervasive than previously thought.

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