I recently heard a story from American Public Media’s Marketplace podcast which revealed that females account for only about 7.5% of the patents in the US. Really? Only 7.5% of patents? This number is somewhat debatable since gender is not captured on patent applications and therefore the data are estimates based on applicants names. This article from the National Women’s Business Council claims that women received 18% of the patents in 2010. What is not in dispute is that the number of patents women are receiving is growing. A recent Forbes article mentions that the two of the most patent-intensive fields are mechanical and electrical engineering, fields that have lower percentages of female workers. However, the women in the research departments of these fields tend to be younger than their male counterparts, which could indicate why they receive fewer patents. It may also mean that in years to come there will be more women receiving patents as they become senior contributors in their fields.
I know a number of patent holders, but none are women. That does seem strange to me, but maybe that will change!