Barriers for Female Patent Inventors

If the gender gap persists, there will be a long way to go before we see parity in the patent industry. Women will not be at parity in patenting until 2092, based on a 15-year period. Until then, there are several barriers that may be standing in the way of women becoming successful in the field. These barriers can range from a lack of social networks to a lack of self-belief.

Disparity between female inventors and male-dominated industries

Despite a long-standing trend, women still trail men in many fields, including patenting inventions. As a result, only 10% of patents listed in patent databases have female inventors, a rate far lower than in the general population. This gender disparity stems in part from the patenting process itself, which is more favorable for men than women. But why is it that women are less likely to patent innovations than men?

The gender gap can be partly attributed to societal norms and the lack of incentives for females in traditional fields. For example, the socialization of women and their unbalanced home and caregiving responsibilities are two factors that may influence patent issuance. But, even if gender plays no role in the decision-making process, implicit bias may play a large role in the rejection of female patent applications.

To measure the extent of gender-based bias in patent applications, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) tracks different STEM fields. Biotechnologies, for instance, have the highest proportion of female inventors: 52 percent of pharmaceutical patents are filed by women. Conversely, electrical engineering patents have the lowest proportion of female inventors, at less than 10 percent. And, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released data for 2019 that showed that the disparity between male and female patent inventors remains persistent.

The disparity between male and female patent inventors affects the ability of scientists to develop new products and solutions. Women in STEM fields face systemic barriers and lack of support to commercialize their ideas. However, these barriers do not mean women cannot be inventors. According to the Equality of Opportunity Project (EOP), women could have been “lost Einsteins” and contributed to the U.S.’s technological advancement. The EOP found that by increasing female inventors’ numbers, innovation would quadruple.

Research by the U.S. Patent Office suggests that women face greater barriers in securing funding than male scientists. Furthermore, female scientists lack the social networks necessary to commercialize their inventions. In spite of these problems, however, femtech received more than $1 billion in funding between 2015 and 2018. It is estimated to be worth $50 billion by 2025, a significant fraction of which will come from female scientists.

Lack of social networks

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Patent Office suggests that women have fewer professional and social networks than men, which can hamper their ability to pursue a career in the patenting process. Regardless of whether the issue is cultural or societal, it is important to include more women in the business community, since technology is a major driver of economic growth in the United States and other countries. Women’s inclusion in the technology business can boost job growth and economic development, which is why technology companies need to invest in their products and services.

This lack of social networks for female inventors is an issue that can be addressed by various national initiatives. These include the Women President’s Organization, Ellevate, Golden Seeds, and the Tory Burch Foundation. These organizations can play an important role in starting to move the needle towards gender parity in the patenting world and reap the rewards of women’s untapped potential. However, it is not enough to encourage women to become the trailblazers themselves. Rather, women should develop networks that connect them to other female inventors who can help them succeed.

Getting venture capital from a patent inventor

Obtaining a patent can be helpful in securing venture capital. Many venture capitalists view patents as essential for attracting investors. According to a 2010 study by the Commerce Department, only 3 percent of venture capital funds go to companies with female founders. Furthermore, men hold the majority of senior management positions at venture capital firms, while women make up only 12% of venture capitalists. Despite the obvious benefits of patents, getting venture capital from a female inventor can be difficult.

Many barriers prevent women from pursuing STEM degrees on a par with men and from staying in STEM fields for long enough to become an inventor. In addition, companies are not always careful with who they staff on projects and don’t have a clear understanding of the invention process. Also, some women aren’t comfortable self-promotion and tend to focus on coming up with the “perfect” idea. To overcome these barriers, it is important to hire women with diverse backgrounds.

While a female patent inventor is unlikely to have venture capital or angel investors, she can benefit from the support of male mentors and investors. Historically, men have led the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which fosters American innovation and entrepreneurship. This can prove to be an important step in the growth of a new venture. It isn’t an easy task to raise venture capital when you’re a woman, but it’s worth it for a woman’s chances at success.

Lack of self-belief

Although women are underrepresented in the world of invention, they do exist. Most patent applications list the name of a male inventor, with fewer than one-third of inventors being women. According to the U.K. Patent Office, this number is higher in some countries, such as the U.S., where 96 percent of applications name a male inventor. While this figure is still small, women can overcome these disadvantages by building on their own self-belief and pushing their ideas.

Until recently, understanding this gender disparity has been a challenge. The US Patent and Trademark Office only provided information on individual patents, which was too limited to help scientists, engineers, and other professionals understand patents. But recent bulk data releases have changed that, allowing researchers to trace the history of 2.7 million patents. The researchers were able to trace the interactions between inventors and patent examiners, and how the patent claims were changed during the filing process. They then used commercial databases to determine the gender of patent inventors.

Women have also been unable to pursue STEM degrees to the same degree as men, so it’s not surprising that fewer women pursued these careers after college. In addition to not remaining in STEM fields long enough to become patent inventors, some companies don’t pay attention to who they staff on projects, and the reviewers of inventions are not always diverse. Many women find themselves overly critical of their own ideas or are uncomfortable promoting themselves.

As a former technology lawyer, Barker saw that most companies didn’t have a diverse inventor community. She decided to change this. She explained that many companies have implicit biases and are not actively seeking out diverse inventors. In the last three years, she has worked with companies to improve the diversity pipeline and retain women. Moreover, she also serves as the vice chair of the Women in IP Law Committee, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in IP law.

Although women are more likely to become inventors, a study shows that they are less likely to become successful. Women are less likely than men to be successful, and white men are more likely to have successful careers. In fact, a female patent inventor is three times less likely than a male inventor to become a billionaire. The study also shows that women are less likely to start new businesses.

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