Women represent only 13% of patent inventions in science

Despite making up 29 percent of the workforce in STEM-related fields, women only account for 12.8 percent of invention patents, revealing a deep disparity in the field. Institutional changes to both academic arenas and the patent process itself could help narrow the gender gap, according to a letter in Science published May 12. 

Women face several barriers to pursuing patents, including a deep-rooted belief that they are not innovative enough to apply for one. They are often less familiar with the patent process than men so may also be unaware or struggle to complete it. Applicants for patents are also not required to fill out the names of all the co-contributors and collaborators to the invention, meaning women's names are sometimes unintentionally missed from the list. 

To overcome these challenges, academic institutions could create more equitable opportunities for women to apply for patents by providing them with support and knowledge about the process through office hours or guides. By mandating the names of previous and current collaborators in disclosure forms, more women's names could also be added to patents. 

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