On February 11, 2019, the USPTO 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 shows that women still comprise a small minority of patent inventors. Further, it highlights the untapped potential of women to spur U.S. innovation. Women, like other under-represented groups, are among the “lost Einsteins”—people who may contribute valuable inventions had they been exposed to innovation1 and had greater access to the patent system.
- 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.