Latest USPTO report finds a 32% increase in the number of U.S. counties where women patented between 1990 and 2019

Press Release

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WASHINGTON—The United States Patent and Trademark Office today released a new report, titled “Where are U.S. women patentees? Assessing three decades of growth.” The report examines women’s patenting by U.S. counties from 1990 through 2019. It identifies counties with the most women-patentees by technology field and assesses three decades of growth. The report delves deeper into the characteristics of those county economic environments to identify factors correlated with women’s participation in patenting. 

Over the 30-year period from 1990 through 2019, women inventors patented in 411 new counties, an increase of 32% in the number of counties where women patent. 

“Our new study shows important trends over the past thirty years in women patenting,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “We plan to use this study and other data as we focus on bringing more women into the innovation and patenting ecosystem. We must increase the number of women inventors on patents from the 12-13% it is at today to full representation. This is critical for job growth and economic prosperity.” 

Across technology hubs, more women were named on physics patents than in any other field and the technology hub with the largest growth rate in women inventor-patentees was in electricity in Santa Clara County, California, rising over 7,000% during the 30 years studied. In 1990, only 46 women inventors were listed on electricity; by 2019, they numbered nearly 3,300.  

The report was unveiled at a press conference featuring Director Vidal and Dayna Johnson, president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), at SWE’s WE22 event. The conference, among the world’s largest for women in engineering and technology, took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Harris County (Houston), Texas, a top women-patenting county that experienced a 2,045% growth in women patentees in the field of fixed constructions (buildings, structures, earth drilling, and related materials) during the 30-year period studied.

“[The Society of Women Engineers] acknowledges the importance of women’s participation in patenting and the critical nature of ensuring diverse perspectives are included in the invention process.  We congratulate all women patent holders and look forward to their future successes while encouraging women engineers to consider this meaningful area of work,” said Dayna Johnson, president of the Society of Women Engineers and of GE Gas & Power, Chicago. 

The report further examined factors that were empirically related to the county environments of women inventor-patentees. Education was found to be positively correlated with increasing the chances that a county would have women patentees. Women’s educational attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher was 52% greater in counties with women inventor-patentees. The importance of women’s educational attainment carries over to counties with no previous women inventor-patentees: doubling the number of women college graduates correlates to a 61% increase in the likelihood that a county has its first woman inventor-patentee.  

See the full report online

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