Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Women do not patent

A frighteningly low proportion of patents are granted to women, 7.5% in the United States, while only 5.5% of those that are commercialized are from women. Maybe they are of a more generous nature and realize how progress-crippling patenting can be these days. But I doubt this effect can be that strong. The elephant in the room is of course the low proportion of females in sciences and engineering professions. It cannot be the only explanation, because females have a higher share than 7.5%, but it is a start.

Jennifer Hunt, Jean-Philippe Garant, Hannah Herman and David Munroe claim the missing women has little to do with their proportion in the science and engineering fields. Rather, the culprit is the lack of women in science and engineering jobs that involve development and design, in particular electrical and mechanical engineering. What pushes women out? Lack of interest, abilities or discrimination? The paper is silent on this (except for hurdles in the promotion process) but ventures to say that correcting this would increase GDP by 2.7%. This number is based on the idea that if more women were working in those fields, there would be proportionally more patents, and GDP would be proportionally higher. I do not think this is that simple.

1 comment:

Anuja said...

Interesting and inspiring study! Thanks for posting!