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WIPO Indicates Gender Gap in Inventorship Through 2015 Patent Cooperation Treaty Data

Source: Grill IP patent news

gender-gap-female-inventorship-wipoThe gender gap in technology and innovation is very real, and its impact has been felt in the patent sector. Recently, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry spoke of new data indicating that 29% of international patent applications filed through WIPO in 2015 involved women inventors. While this statistic is up from 17% back in 1995, it hints at an oft unmentioned divide in the patent process.

    Gurry’s remarks took place at the “IP Statistics for Decision Makers 2016” conference in Australia. He called on policy makers to foster innovation among all members of their respective countries through the promotion of mathematics and science courses for female students. WIPO’s stats provide a rare look into female inventorship through the lens of international patent applications filed via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). With 151 contracting states, the PCT’s gender inventorship analysis utilizes techniques according to publicly available name dictionaries.

    “These new, global data give us a baseline for understanding the role of gender in the filing of international patent applications, which is one metric used in measuring a country’s innovative capacity,” Gurry noted, “These data prove that a gender gap exists and it needs to be addressed.”

    Disparity exists between company patents and those filed by academic institutions, with the latter having women involved in 48% of applications and the former having only 28%. This global level of 29% hides a difference of participation across countries in 2015. The Republic or Korea (50%) and China (49%) have the greatest gender equality in international patenting, trailed by Poland (40%), Spain (35%) and Singapore (34%). PCT countries with the fewest women applicants include Japan (19%), Germany (19%), Italy (18%) and South Africa (16%).

    By and large, these differences can be attributed to the industrial specialties of each country, as women’s participation various across fields of technology. More women are involved in the realm of biotechnology (58%) and pharmaceuticals (55%), with notably less input in the transport (13%) and mechanical tools (11%) industries.

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