Press release | 8.11.2022
Munich, 8 November 2022 - A new study released today by the European Patent Office (EPO) finds that 13.2% of inventors in Europe are women. The study, the first of its kind to be published by the EPO, is based on the percentage of women inventors named in all patent applications to the EPO from 1978 until 2019. It highlights that while the women inventor rate in Europe has been rising in recent decades (up from only 2% in the late 1970s to 13.2% in 2019), a strong gender gap remains. The rate of women inventors is also far below the share of women among science and engineering researchers and graduates.
The EPO study aims to provide policymakers and the general public with insights and evidence on gender and patenting in Europe. It provides data on women inventors across different countries, time periods, technology ﬁelds and patent applicant proﬁles.
According to the study, the rate of women inventors in Europe (13.2% in 2019) is higher than that of Japan (9.5%), but below that of South Korea (28.3%), China (26.8%) and the US (15.0%),
The President of the EPO, António Campinos, said: "This report sheds new light on the contribution of women to technological innovation and the gaps that need to be filled to realise the full potential of women inventors in Europe. While some progress has been made in recent decades, more needs to be done to boost inclusiveness in the field of patents. Promoting women in science and innovation remains a major challenge for Europe, yet this is a key factor to our future sustainability and competitiveness."
In the ranking of EPO member states (for the period 2010-19) Latvia (30.6%), Portugal (26.8%), Croatia (25.8%), Spain (23.2%) and Lithuania (21.4%) have the highest proportion of women inventors, while Germany (10.0%), Luxembourg (10.0%), Liechtenstein (9.6%) and Austria (8.0%) have the lowest.
The EPO study finds that chemistry stands out as the technology sector with the highest share of women inventors (22.4% in 2010-19), while mechanical engineering (5.2%) has the lowest share. Within the chemistry sector, patent applications in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals have rates of over 30% women inventors.
The report also highlights that patent applications from universities and public research organisations have a significantly larger share of women inventors (19.4% in 2010-19) than those from private business (10.0%). In addition, the report reveals that women are more likely to be found in inventor teams than among individual inventors, but they tend to have less senior positions in those teams than men
This study is part of the EPO's overall commitment to providing data and research on innovation in Europe. The EPO also publishes its annual Patent Index, highlighting the countries, regions, companies and industries leading in patent applications, in addition to numerous technology sector reports and resources. To learn more about statistics and research at the EPO, visit our website.
With 6 300 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.
Luis Berenguer Giménez
Principal Director Communication, Spokesperson
EPO Press Desk
Tel. +49 89 2399 1833
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