U.S. Patent and Trademark Office releases new report on trends and characteristics of U.S. women inventors

Report shows that women still comprise a small minority of patented inventors
February 11, 2019
Press Release 19-06

CONTACT: (Media Only)
Paul Fucito
(571) 272-8400 or paul.fucito@uspto.gov

WASHINGTON - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released “Progress and Potential: A profile of women inventors on U.S. patents,” a report on the trends and characteristics of U.S. women inventors named on U.S. patents granted from 1976 through 2016. The report issued by the USPTO’s Office of the Chief Economist shows that women still comprise a small minority of patented inventors and highlights an untapped potential of women to spur innovation in the United States.

The report delivers several important findings, including:

  • 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 inventors earning a patent.
  • Technology-intensive states, as well as those where women comprise a large percentage of the state’s overall workforce, show higher rates of women inventors.
  • Women inventors are increasingly concentrated in specific technologies, suggesting that women are specializing in areas where female predecessors have traditionally patented rather than entering into male-dominated fields.
  • Women are increasingly likely to patent on large, gender-mixed inventor teams, and are less likely than men to be an individual inventor on a granted patent.

“It is important for the United States to broaden its innovation ecosphere demographically, geographically, and economically,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu. “America needs more inventors participating in the many benefits U.S. patents can provide. The USPTO will continue to push the national dialogue on this issue and do what we can to spur real change.”

“Women inventors have made and continue to make key contributions,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Laura Peter. “We look forward to working with industry, academia, and other government agencies to identify ways to increase the number of women inventors in all sectors of our economy.”

The full report can be found online at www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/economic-research/progress-potential.

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