This year World IP day celebrates the “can do” attitude of women inventors, creators and entrepreneurs around the world and their ground-breaking work.
Some of the most famous woman inventors are, to name but a few, – Josephine Cochrane, Maria Beasley and Grace Hopper.
American inventor Josephine Cochrane invented the idea of a mechanical dishwasher – one that would hold dishes securely in a rack while the pressure of a water sprayer cleaned the dishes ( thank you Josephine you are a lifesaver! ). Josephine received her patent in 1886 and began to market her dishwasher to hotels.
Maria Beasley invented a raft that was “ fire-proof, compact, safe and readily launches”. By changing the style of the original floats used as life raft, she created a raft that could be folded for storage but unfolded quickly in an emergency, yet still had guard rails at the side.
Grace Hopper invented the first compiler in 1952 which basically taught computers how to talk. She later co-invented the COBOL computer language, the first universal programming language used in business and government. Grace Hopper said “The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people”. She also said “I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ‘’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances”. What a lady!
Despite these amazing woman inventors and those that came before and after them, there is still a gender gap in innovation. WIPO statistics reveal that only 16.5% of inventors named in international patent applications in 2020 were women. WIPO reports that this share has increased in the past decade and although the numbers are going in the right direction WIPO estimates that, at the current pace, the gender gap will not be equal ( amongst PCT-listed inventors ) until at least 2058.
Interestingly, women inventors tend to be concentrated in specific disciplines, with biotechnology, food chemistry, and pharmaceuticals being the top three fields for women in 2020. On the other hand, transport; engines, pumps and turbines; and mechanical elements are the fields in which women filed the least patent applications in 2020.
Woman make up half of the world’s population and so the world is losing out if these woman are not inventing and protecting their innovations. The question is what can be done to bridge this gap quicker?
We can bridge the gap by knowledge sharing, education and inclusion. WIPO have a number of tools that can be used to gain such information. You can find out more from Lisa Jorgenson, WIPO’s gender Champion by scrolling to the end of the page at this link: Women and IP – Accelerating innovation and creativity (wipo.int).
Find out more about some of the female entrepreneurs and inventors that we are working with here at M&D by reading our series of articles for World IP Day 2023.