February 20, 2019

Study Confirms Women Have Untapped Potential to Spur Innovation

On February 11, 2019, the US Patent and Trademark Office released a report titled "Progress and Potential: a profile of women inventors on U.S. patents" on the trends of women inventors named on US patents granted in the last 40 years (1976-2016). Prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist, the report shows a modest increase in the number of women inventors, but documents that women still make up a small minority of inventors and highlights the untapped potential of women to spur innovation. A link to the report is here:

https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Progress-and-Potential.pdf

The key findings:

  1. Patents that include at least one woman as an inventor increased from about 7 percent in the 1980s to 21 percent by 2016.
  2. Even with this increase in patent counts, women inventors made up only 12 percent of all inventors on patents granted in 2016.
  3. Gains in female participation in science and engineering occupations and entrepreneurship are not leading to broad increases in female patent inventors.
  4. Technology-intensive U.S. states, and states in which women participate more in the overall workforce, show higher women inventor rates. (Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey, Maryland, Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina have the highest percentage of women inventors. Compare: North Dakota, New Hampshire, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah have the lowest percentage of women inventors.)
  5. Women inventors are increasingly concentrated in specific technologies and types of patenting organizations, which suggests that women are specializing where female predecessors already have patented, rather than entering male-dominated fields or firms. (Biology, Chemistry and Industrial Designs have higher percentage of women inventors than do other fields.)
  6. American businesses have the lowest women inventor rates among the various categories of U.S. patent owners. The female share of patent inventors is highest among chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
  7. Women are increasingly likely to patent on large, gender-mixed inventor teams, which highlights the growing importance of understanding the relationship between gender and innovative collaboration. As compared to patents with gender-mixed inventor teams, there were substantially fewer patents having a woman as solo inventor, and substantially fewer patents with women-only inventor teams.

 

Pat’s Perspective: The women inventors with whom I’ve worked since 1987 have always been at the top of their fields – not only highly intelligent and creative, but also organized, responsive, and collegial. I’d welcome working with more of you!

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