Women of Interest – Patsy O’Connell Sherman

Patsy O’Connell Sherman, was born September 15, 1930, in Minnesota and died on February 11, 2008. Sherman was the inventor of Scotchguard, the fabric protector. In 1989 Sherman was the first woman inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 2001 into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Sherman achieved many firsts in her lifetime, beginning in 1952 when she was the first woman to graduate from Adolphus College with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and mathematics. Following graduation, she was hired by 3M on a temporary contract basis because, at that time, women were not hired as permanent employees; it was assumed they would eventually get married and leave the company. Sherman did marry but continued to work at 3M until her retirement in 1992. Patsy Sherman went on to achieve many awards during her career. In 1974 she was the first woman inducted into 3M’s Carlton Society, which honors the company’s top scientists; also in 2002 she was asked to speak at the United States Patent and Trademark Offices 200th birthday celebrations. Patsy’s invention of Scotchguard is considered one of the top fifteen accidental inventions.

Further information about this ingenious woman can be found at the following websites: