The gender gap in filing for patents

03 Sep 2006 | News
Male scientists are more likely to file patents on their research than their female colleagues.

In one of those "what on earth do we make of that" reports, we learn that "Male academics register patents at twice the rate of their female colleagues, despite equivalent levels of scientific achievements".
That's the message from a survey that we first read about on the European Commission's "Biosociety" web site. It describes a survey commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation, "established in the 1960s to promote entrepreneurship". While the study is of scientists in the USA. the EC's note points out that "the lessons it draws are pertinent for European academics who tend to patent less frequently than their American colleagues".
The full document of the study tells us that "women faculty members patent at about 40 percent of the rate of men". As well as highlighting the gender gap, the study also says a lot about the propensity yo patent these days. "Our analyses suggest that patenting has become common in the academic life sciences, particularly for highly productive and networked faculty."
Things are changing, though. "For younger cohorts patenting is widely embraced, although a gender gap remains. Increasingly, however, young female faculty are similar to their male colleagues: they view patents as accomplishments and as a legitimate means to disseminate research. If this trend continues, we may observe further declines in the magnitude of the gender gap in commercializing academic science." 

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