The USPTO recently released a report on the trends and characteristics of U.S. women inventors named on U.S. patents granted from 1976 through 2016.

Sadly but not surprisingly, the report showed that women still represent a minority of inventors with patents.

While the report does not reveal concrete reasons why women are so underrepresented in the inventor field, it is likely due to the wage gap and need for more women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. For example, studies show that women earned roughly half the income of men in the US over a 15-year period. The gender pay gap still exists. Could it be that women simply can’t afford to protect their innovation? Women are underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. Research points to environmental and social barriers — including stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities — that continue to block women’s progress in STEM.

Here are Major Findings Identified by the USPTO:

  • The share of patents that include at least one woman as an inventor increased from about 7 percent in the 1980s to 21 percent by 2016.
  • Even with this increase in patent counts, women inventors made up only 12 percent of all inventors on patents granted in 2016.
  • Gains in female participation in science and engineering occupations and entrepreneurship are not leading to broad increases in female patent inventors.
  • Technology-intensive U.S. states, and those where women participate more in the overall workforce, show higher women inventor rates.
  • Women inventors are increasingly concentrated in specific technologies and types of patenting organizations, suggesting that women are specializing where female predecessors have patented rather than entering into male-dominated fields or firms.
  • American businesses have the lowest women inventor rates among the various categories of U.S. patent owners.
  • Women are increasingly likely to patent on large, gender-mixed inventor teams, highlighting the growing importance of understanding the relationship between gender and innovative collaboration.

CLICK HERE to read the USPTO’s report.

Why do you think so few women patent their inventions?

By: Andrea H. Evans @evansiplaw

UIA Board Member

March 2019