Examining the Gender Gap in Patenting | AIChE

Examining the Gender Gap in Patenting


Securing a patent as a doctoral student can be a career boon, helping to make graduates competitive in industry jobs. New research, however, reveals a gender gap in patenting as a PhD across multiple science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Overall, the likelihood of a female PhD student becoming an early inventor during her doctorate or in the first two years after graduating with her PhD was 39% lower than the chances for a male PhD student, at a 2.6% vs. a 4.2% probability, the study found. Even when female students were advised by faculty who were themselves prolific inventors, they were less likely than the same advisors’ male students to secure their own patents.

“There is a gender gap in the likelihood of becoming new inventors,” says Mercedes Delgado, an associate professor of strategy and innovation at Copenhagen Business School, who coauthored the new study along with Fiona Murray, a professor of entrepreneurship at MIT...

Prior to this study, there was no centralized way to track patenting among doctoral students. But 60% of STEM PhDs work in industry in fields where patenting is common, Delgado says, and a demonstrated familiarity with the process can be appealing to employers. This might provide a leg up early in one’s career, she says, and could have long-lasting impacts.

Delgado and Murray...

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