The intellectual property (IP) community is celebrating this year’s World Intellectual Property Day - April 26, 2018 - with the motto of “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity.” With this theme the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) aims to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the world of Intellectual Property. It is no secret that the IP industry is predominantly male orientated, so it is necessary to understand and identify the women’s position when it comes to Intellectual Property.
Gender Gap in Intellectual Property
It’s 21st century but it is sad to see that women are still under-represented in many professional areas despite them being creative and innovative equally as men. This indicates obstacles as revealed by the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report that need to be overcome preventing women from creating and innovating. It is further more astonishing to discover that there are only two countries including the Republic of Korea and China where over 50% of patent applications are filed by women.
Considering women have been largely unconsidered in the Intellectual Property industry and patenting, a report on the state of Intellectual Property worldwide has been released by WIPO in 2016 that stressed on recognizing women’s contribution to innovation and creativity. Going further in the report, WIPO has also addressed the importance of gender equality to innovation and what exactly should be done to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the world of Intellectual Property.
Women in the Intellectual Property Industry
Though Intellectual Property is largely a male dominated field, it’s good to see increase in women joining the industry and obtaining senior positions within the industry. What is more encouraging in the context to some extent is WIPO’s latest data that show increase in the number of international patent applications filed by women inventors in the past 10 years.
On the other hand, it’s interesting to witness women making their presence in devising innovative ground-breaking technology in different areas including astrophysics, nanotechnology, medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics, which is an indication of world of opportunity that Intellectual Property holds for them. Notably, the categories of patent applications where women outnumber men in terms of innovation include biotechnology patents, pharmaceuticals and food chemistry.
Need for Action
As the theme for the 2018 World Intellectual Property Day resonates with women’s empowerment within the Intellectual Property industry, time has come to take some serious, constructive and revolutionary steps to bring gender balance in perspective.
- It can be done by taking initiative into education by ensuring that scholarships into certain technical degrees are fairly distributed between men and women. Also, women and girls should be encouraged for innovation and told how Intellectual Property can support their innovation.
- Another great effort could be made by the Intellectual Property organizations by integrating a gender perspective in their policies and programs, encouraging women to take leadership positions, and creating women’s initiatives and programs that will encourage them to progress.
- Organizing events like workshops, conferences and seminars could be the next significant way to provide aspiring women Intellectual Property professionals a positive, empowering and engaging environment for learning and development. Events like these will not help women Intellectual Property professionals build a strong network in the Intellectual Property industry but also equip them with the skills required for effective leadership to deal with the challenges and opportunities they might face as leaders.
This is not it and there is further progress to be made still, and as a society, we must not forget that this is our duty to encourage the innovation, creativity and curiosity of women.