More women file patent applications but gender gap persists

According to a new study from WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), 29% of all international patent applications filed via the organization in 2015 included a female inventor. This is a significant increase from 1995, when the number was just 17%, but the undeniable gender gap persists.

“These data prove that a gender gap exists and it needs to be addressed,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry about the statistics.
WIPO’s study also revealed that close to half (48%) of international patent applications filed by an academic institution included a female inventor, whereas only 28% of the applications filed by a company could say the same.

Looking at different countries, the gender gap varies as well. When it comes to international patent applications, the most gender equal countries in 2015 were The Republic of Korea (50%) and China (49%). On the opposite end of the scale, demonstrating the biggest gender gaps in international patent filing, are South Africa (16%) and Italy (18%).

The national differences can partly be explained by the fact that many countries specialize in different fields. E.g. women are more represented in industries like biotechnology (58%) and pharmaceuticals (55%) and less in others, such as mechincal elements (11%) and transport (13%).
WIPO’s pioneering study of female inventorship has looked at international patent applications filed via WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with 151 contracting states across the world.

For more information, or to read the full report, please visit WIPO.