‘More must be done to foster diversity in IP if we don’t want to wait 50 years to achieve gender parity in innovation’, says Joan Mill, Managing Director, EMEA at CPA Global.
It’s a publishing phenomenon that has laid bare the ways in which many everyday items are designed (often unconsciously) with an inherent gender bias. The recent book 'Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men' by Caroline Criado Perez, which came out March, highlights that from crash-test dummies to police stab vests, women are being overlooked in the research and innovation process with potentially lethal results. This is the natural consequence of there being an insufficient number of female inventors – the solution is to encourage greater gender diversity in IP, empowering more women to become creators and inventors.
That’s no small task, however. Despite a rich heritage of female inventors, from Melitta Bentz, who patented the coffee filter back in 1908 to Patricia Bath, the first African-American female inventor to receive a medical patent in 1988, we remain in the minority. So it’s shocking, if perhaps not terribly surprising, that figures released earlier this month by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) reveal that only one in seven patent applications globally are filed by women – let that sink in.
Even where groups of innovators work in collaboration, well over two-thirds (69%) of those teams are all-male, compared to six percent which are all female (a quarter are mixed).
Considering how far we are into the 21st Century, that’s a pretty poor rate of diversity in IP – and at the current rate of progress, some estimates say we may have to wait until 2070 to see gender parity!
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