IPO report finds UK women inventors still thin on the ground

Added: 16th October 2018 by Intellectual Property Office

Report to mark World Intellectual Property Day highlights there is still much to do to reach gender equality in STEM industries

Under 10% of inventors named on Great British patent applications are women, according to research from the Intellectual Property Office, released to mark World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April.

The report, 'Gender profiles in UK Patenting – An Analysis of Female Inventorship', found that only 8% of inventors named on Great British patent applications were women, although this has doubled since the 1980s.

Chemistry, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals were the STEM industries with the highest proportion of female inventors seeking GB patents, according to analysis based on the World Intellectual Property Organisation's international patent classification.

Analysis of the classifications applied to each patent application also shows that the highest proportion of female inventors are in stereotypical areas such as brassieres, corsets and other clothing, cosmetics, furniture and food. The lowest proportion are in areas such as weapons, engines and tools.

Prospect, the union for professionals, managers and specialists, is using World Intellectual Property Day to highlight the report and demonstrate that while much has been achieved in reaching gender equality in STEM industries, there is still much to do.

Prospect deputy general secretary Sue Ferns said: “Until now, much of the statistical research relied on ‘inputs’, such as the number of women employed in any industry. The IPO report is one of few to provide data on the ‘outputs’ or work undertaken by those women.

“The world of patenting remains male-dominated. There is a clear gender disparity with 88% of all GB patent applications coming from teams of all-male inventors.

"If the UK is to find the 1.82 million new engineers that it needs by 2022, more women need to not only qualify, but work in STEM industries. We need all of the talent pool,” added Ferns.