Why aren’t more women named on patents?

When it comes to inventor patents, the overall number of women getting them is still dismally low.

A new report released by the United States Patent and Trademark Office looked at 30 years of patents from 1990 to 2019.

“The number of women that are actually named on patents is 12 (to) 13%,” said Kathi Vidal, the undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “We’re leaving people on the bench and we’re not getting out there into areas where there’s other innovation.”

Vidal said the report shows part of the problem is women not having access to the patent process in some areas of the country.

“We do notice when we get out there and meet women where they are and provide them with legal services, that number of 12-13 percent changes dramatically. When we provide free legal counsel and educate women on the value of patents, the number of people who benefit from our free services are 41% women,” said Vidal.

The report also showed a correlation between women and education. There are 52% more highly-educated women in the counties across the country where women patent most. But they don’t know whether patenting is driving higher education or vice versa.

According to Vidal, this means more than just getting invention bragging rights, as patents are directly related to GDP.

“If we can close the gender gap in patents, we can increase GDP by 2.7%. So there’s a direct correlation between patenting and jobs and economic growth,” Vidal said.

The patent office is looking at more ways to educate on the importance of patenting, including a lot of outreach to younger people.

Vidal said they have educated almost 250,000 children about the value of innovation and patenting through the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

While the study found a 32% increase in the number of counties where women patented over the past 30 years, there are still many areas that are underrepresented and they want to provide more resources for those areas.

Of the patents held by women, the majority are in the field of physics. Technology patents saw the largest growth rate for women in the past 30 years.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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