New study: Fewer than 1 in 7 inventors in Europe are women

08.11.2022 | Patents, IPI

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.


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%).


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. Switzerland reaches a share of 11.9%.


Largest proportion of women in chemistry


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. 


Read the EPO-Feature story on Women inventors