“Counting on expert support is essential to impulse ideas”

Services - Header 1.1

Fast Company: Leadership: Dissecting The Patent Gap, by Lydia Dishman

This post originally appeared in Fast Company on July 22, 2016.

Another day, another sobering statistic about the gender gap in the workplace.

Although women have more than quintupled their representation among patent holders since 1977, only 7.7% of more than 520,000 patents were applied for by a female inventor in 2010 (the most recent year gender was tracked by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

After reviewing and analyzing multiple reports and data on women and patents, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that at the current rate of progress, gender equity in this area is more than 75 years away. That’s even longer than it will take women to achieve pay parity (estimated to close in 2059). But it may be somewhat quicker than achieving equality in the C-suite.

As the USPTO doesn’t collect demographic information on inventors as a part of the patent application, there could be more women than we know applying for patents. But IWPR’s study director, Jessica Milli, says that while it’s certainly possible, name-matching software is becoming increasingly more accurate and is now able to identify gender from names from a wide variety of countries.

She explains that they were able to identify the gender of about 94% of the names in the data set and the remaining 6% were assigned a gender based on the ratio of patents awarded to men and women each year. “There is probably some margin of error with these estimates,” Milli admits, “but it is unlikely that the share of women involved in patenting would be drastically different than current estimates if the USPTO collected data on gender.”



The reasons for the underrepresentation are numerous. The IWPR cites the “pipeline” problem, which points to fewer women in STEM fields overall. The incremental increase in patents applied for by women since 1977 is directly connected to the greater number of women who earned STEM degrees since that time. However, the study authors write, “Women continue to be grossly underrepresented in some patent-intensive STEM fields, such as engineering and computer science.”

They do note that the lack of women does play a role in the disparity, but breaking it down by segment shows a slightly different picture. They point out that only 19.1% of engineering degrees, 20.9% of computer science degrees, and 38.7% of degrees in the physical sciences were awarded to women. In the biological sciences, though, women earned the majority (58.3%) of degrees but those are less patent-intensive, notes Milli.


“Not only are women rarely the inventors, but when they are their products are in traditionally female areas such as jewelry or apparel.”


The study shows that not only are women rarely the inventors, but when they are their products are in traditionally female areas such as jewelry (26.7% of all patents) or apparel (25.3% of all patents). When they are part of a group of inventors, the patent classes are more diverse, and include chemicals (50.1%), organic compounds (43.3%), and drugs (41/1%).

Fast Company recently covered the latest research that indicates women get less credit when they work in teams. Could there be a correlation between those findings and the fact that women aren’t listed as the primary inventor in a team patent?

Milli says it could be a little of both, citing additional previous research on women’s reluctance to speak up in groups. “If we assume that these findings are still largely accurate, then even if a woman contributes to a team effort, her contributions may be marginalized and she may not be given (as much) credit,” she says.

Some of the research that Milli and her team reviewed also pointed to a lack of networks, or smaller networks, among women scientists that could pose a barrier to patenting their ideas. “Links to both academic and industry scientists are one way that inventor teams are formed and they are also an important way of accessing resources such as financial support, different skill sets, creative input, et cetera,” she explains. Having few or no network contacts could be preventing them from pursuing patenting in general, Milli says.

Venture capital, or lack of it, could also be a factor, according to the report. “Start-up managers report that 76% of venture capital investors consider patents in funding determinations. Patent applications signal quality for new projects and aid venture capital investors in their decision making process,” the report’s authors write.

The puzzling thing about this particular lack of parity is that the report revealed that gender-diverse teams of inventors are cited more often, which is considered a measure of its success. “Citations are the number of times a new patent cites the patent of interest,” Milli explains. “Generally, when a patent has high citation counts it is because current inventors view this technology as useful and are using it as a stepping-stone for their own innovations.”

She says that citation counts can vary depending on how long the patent has been around and what technological field the patent is classified in. All of the studies examined for this report were adjusted to factor that in, so all patents could be compared side by side.

Milli cites a study from the National Center for Women in Information Technology that suggests possible reasons why this is happening. Greater gender diversity on teams means a broader pool of knowledge and ideas to draw on, which generally leads to higher-quality research and innovation. Mixed-sex teams tend to be larger than male- and female-only teams, which again increases the pool of knowledge and ideas from which to draw on and may produce more complex patents.

But, she notes, “You can’t have gender diversity if women aren’t involved in patenting to begin with.”

As such, the IWPR suggests the following strategies to correct the inequality:

  1. Support efforts to improve gender diversity in STEM
  2. Develop systems and data tools to better track women’s progress in patenting
  3. Employers can offer women assistance with patenting costs
  4. Encourage women’s cultivation of industry contacts and higher-power networks


Tags: , ,


  1. admin
    Jul 21, 2016 @ 14:33:22

    Test comment


  2. financial planning
    May 04, 2017 @ 19:54:10

    financial planning

    It’s in point of fact a nice and useful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.


  3. tinyurl.com
    Apr 11, 2019 @ 12:47:57

    It’s really a cool and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied
    that you just shared this useful info with us. Please
    stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.


  4. minecraft
    Apr 12, 2019 @ 01:51:22

    My partner and I stumbled over here from a different web
    page and thought I may as well check things
    out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to exploring your web page for a
    second time.


  5. minecraft
    Apr 13, 2019 @ 09:31:33

    Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all
    your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!


  6. minecraft
    Apr 16, 2019 @ 01:41:54

    Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of
    volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same
    niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!


  7. http://tinyurl.com/y5bq6dkx
    Apr 18, 2019 @ 16:20:47

    Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I
    came to take a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will
    be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and fantastic style and design.


  8. minecraft
    Apr 20, 2019 @ 07:12:21

    Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i
    read this post i thought i could also create comment due
    to this brilliant piece of writing.


  9. minecraft
    Apr 21, 2019 @ 23:09:30

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You obviously know what
    youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read?


  10. minecraft
    Apr 22, 2019 @ 14:24:48

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to
    send you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog
    you might be interested in hearing. Either way,
    great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.


  11. minecraft
    Apr 23, 2019 @ 16:42:02

    What i do not realize is if truth be told how you are not actually much more smartly-liked than you might be now.
    You’re so intelligent. You realize therefore considerably in terms of this subject, made
    me in my view believe it from so many various angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to
    be interested unless it is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga!
    Your own stuffs excellent. Always deal with it up!


  12. gelnagels
    Apr 27, 2019 @ 22:37:51

    Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely magnificent.
    I actually like what you have acquired here,
    really like what you are stating and the way in which you say
    it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it wise.
    I cant wait to read much more from you. This
    is really a wonderful website.


  13. gamefly free trial
    May 01, 2019 @ 08:06:21

    No matter if some one searches for his necessary
    thing, so he/she needs to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over


  14. gamefly
    May 01, 2019 @ 12:20:35

    Hi there, I check your new stuff daily. Your story-telling
    style is awesome, keep it up!


  15. gamefly free trial
    May 01, 2019 @ 13:36:35

    Asking questions are actually good thing if you are not understanding anything completely, however this paragraph gives good understanding yet.


  16. gamefly
    May 02, 2019 @ 11:28:31

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended
    up losing many months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?


  17. gamefly
    May 02, 2019 @ 23:19:23

    Hurrah! After all I got a blog from where I can truly take useful data regarding my study and


  18. gamefly
    May 03, 2019 @ 07:58:50

    Greate pieces. Keep writing such kind of info on your site.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg it and in my view recommend to my friends.
    I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website.


  19. gamefly
    May 04, 2019 @ 15:22:56

    Very good information. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!


  20. gamefly
    May 04, 2019 @ 15:42:31

    What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable familiarity concerning unpredicted feelings.


  21. gamefly
    May 04, 2019 @ 17:57:40

    excellent post, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector
    do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you
    have a great readers’ base already!


  22. oprol evorter
    May 05, 2019 @ 10:25:31

    Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, web site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.


  23. gamefly free trial
    May 06, 2019 @ 05:17:34

    What i do not realize is if truth be told how you’re not really much more
    neatly-preferred than you might be now. You are so
    intelligent. You realize therefore significantly in relation to this topic, produced me for my part consider it from
    numerous varied angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be
    interested except it’s something to accomplish with Woman gaga!
    Your personal stuffs great. All the time take care of it up!


  24. gamefly free trial
    May 06, 2019 @ 06:26:10

    I know this site gives quality based posts and extra stuff, is there any other
    web page which provides these data in quality?


  25. minecraft download free
    May 06, 2019 @ 21:29:42

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I believe that you ought to publish more on this subject, it might not be a
    taboo matter but typically people do not discuss
    such issues. To the next! All the best!!


  26. mojang minecraft download
    May 06, 2019 @ 22:32:44

    What’s up to every one, it’s in fact a pleasant for
    me to go to see this site, it includes helpful Information.


  27. minecraft pc download
    May 07, 2019 @ 19:19:59

    Hi, all is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts,
    that’s genuinely fine, keep up writing.


  28. minecraft pc download
    May 08, 2019 @ 10:12:27

    This post offers clear idea in favor of the new users of blogging,
    that in fact how to do blogging and site-building.


  29. download minecraft pc
    May 08, 2019 @ 12:31:27

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!


Leave a Reply


Contact Us