Women Inventors Lead the Way in the Fight Against COVID-19 

Women inventors lead the way in the fight against COVID-19. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) investigated the participation of American women inventor-patentees in the U.S. patent system. The report highlights that the share of women among new inventors on issued patents has increased from 16.6.% in 2016 to 17.3% by 2019. More women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before, helping close the gender innovation gap.

Although the report showed incremental growth in the women inventor rate (WIR), 12.1% in 2016 to just over 12.8% in 2019, there has been a continuous improvement in the participation of women as inventor-patentees. It’s not just a blip, the data shows that after being the lead investor for the first time 46% become lead inventors on a second patent within five years, tremendous growth from 1980, where the gap was 28% women.

This report confirms data from the International Property Rights Index which shows that women in higher-income countries, especially Western Europe and North America, have higher rankings of gender equality in property. With Western Europe and North America scoring high in regard to property rights on the Index, high-income countries tend to account for a large percent of patent applications globally. In a 2019 report released by WIPO mentioned that offices of high-income countries accounted for 46.8% of the total global patent filings. Although low- and middle-income countries are on the rise in regard to global patent filings, high-income countries enjoy the political and economic stability associated with greater female entrepreneurship and innovation.

For instance, the United States ranks 12th on the IPRI, 2nd on the intellectual property component and 10th on the Property Rights-Gender Equality Index indicating that when weighted women in the U.S. enjoy greater protections to invent, market, and enjoy all the rewards from their works than most women in other countries. Just check out the world’s highest-paid women in music or the world’s most powerful women in business, or any other relevant list. They all have two things in common: they are dominated by American women and their IP-intensive work.

In a related study, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) found that women inventors tend to be concentrated in specific disciplines, with approximately 60 percent filing applications in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and organic chemistry. Throughout the world, women are patenting in all areas of technology, but most tend to be in chemistry-related fields.

With innovation being a big topic of discussion during this COVID-19 Pandemic and the race to a vaccine, the more women and men that can enjoy high IP rights to own their work, especially in the biotechnology field, will make it easier for all innovators to respond to market demand, such as creating COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.

Photo Credit: @bermixstudio