Women's participation in inventive activities

Katalin Kariko

While women's contributions to science and technology have been increasing in recent decades, parity with men has still not been reached. As a result, society is missing out on many goods, drugs and services due to the low participation of women in inventive activities.

Our study specifically focuses on the participation of women in patenting in the EPO member states. The study aims to provide relevant insights and evidence on the contribution of women to technological innovation and its development over time, and the gaps that remain to be bridged to realise the full potential of women inventors in Europe. 

Assessing women's participation in patenting is useful not only to account for this gender gap, but also to understand its causes and consequences. Unlike most indicators of women's participation in STEM activities, patents provide a precise measure of the output of inventive activities at the individual level. It therefore enables a granular analysis of the activities of women inventors, including their distribution across industries and geographic locations, the science and technology fields in which they specialise, as well as their position in scientific teams and collaboration networks.

To find out more, see the EPO press releasea summary of the key findings  and the full report.

Event details

Past event
11:00 - 12:00 h

Panel discussions


Panel 1 on 16 November 2022 at 11.00 hrs 

"Building the pipeline: women studying STEM"

There is a consistent pattern of a decreasing share of women in segments ranging from total employment to PhD enrolment, to PhD graduates in STEM, to R&D personnel and researchers, to patenting. This confirms a "leaking pipeline", whereby women in EPO countries face increasing obstacles as they progress through STEM careers.


The first of three panels focuses on the leaking pipeline in STEM. Join Roberta Romano-Götsch, EPO Chief Sustainability Officer, as she leads a conversation with:


Yann Ménière, EPO Chief Economist and co-author of the EPO's study

Marta Karczewicz, Finalist for the European Inventor Award 2019

Mariana Karepova, President of the Austrian Patent Office

Dorothée Weber-Bruls, Patent Attorney at Jones Day and Professor at Goethe University

Panel 2 on 23 November 2022 at 11.00 hrs 

“Getting international: a solution for women scientists?”

Women are over-represented among inventors whose names and surnames are infrequent in their country of activity and more frequent abroad, which indicates a higher WIR for migrant women inventors than for native ones. This suggests that support for international mobility may give women more opportunities to engage in inventive careers.

The second of three panels covers mobility and its potential benefits.


Join Steve Rowan, EPO Vice-President Patent Granting Process, as he leads a conversation with:

Yann Ménière, EPO Chief Economist and co-author of the EPO's study

Aida Loggiodice, EPO Young Professional Corporate Services

Ana Bandeira, President of the Directive Council of the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI PT)

Valencia Martin-Wallace, Deputy Commissioner for Patents, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Prof. Helen Lee, Inventor and winner of the 2016 Popular Prize

Panel 3 on 30 November 2022 at 11.00 hrs 

“Teaming up: the key towards gender equality”

Women are more likely to work in inventor teams than as individual inventors, but fewer occupy senior positions in such teams compared to men. This reflects the increasing division of intellectual labour that accompanies the accumulation of knowledge, especially in technology fields in which women inventors tend to specialise and bodes well for the future of women in patenting.


The third and final panel takes a closer look at inventor teams, discusses their benefits and considers solutions for closing the gender gap. Join Nellie Simon, EPO Vice-President Corporate Services, as she leads a conversation with:


Yann Ménière, EPO Chief Economist and co-author of the EPO's study

Kathrine Myhre, Director General of the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO)

Cyra Nargolwalla, Managing Partner at Plasseraud IP

Nuria Espallargas, Finalist for the European Inventor Award 2022

Listen to the highlights of the panel discussions in our podcasts