Analysis of women's participation in high-technology patenting

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Purpose – This chapter explores the actual situation of women as patent originators in the European Union (EU) and provides insights into the innovation climate in companies by presenting best-practice examples.

Methodology/approach – Based on a gendered secondary patent database analysis from the European Patent Office (EPO), gender-specific patent data were obtained by a first name assignment, followed by a statistical analysis and input–output comparisons with a focus on high-technology sectors. The best-practice examples are based on expert interviews with male and female inventors.

Findings – The success of women in patenting is lower than their participation in research and development would otherwise predict. The production of technological knowledge depends also on scientific subcultures with dramatic input–output gaps even in feminised sectors. Exemplarily, the case studies reveal success factors on the organisational as well as on team and individual levels which enhance women's performance in the innovation arena.

Research limitations/implications – Further qualitative research is needed to investigate factors in the innovation area which have an impact on the patenting behaviour of men and women.

Social implications – Women are contributing significantly to European patents. Yet overall, their high potential is not being fully included in the innovation process. Their under-representation in patenting should be a concern to policy makers in the EU.

Originality/value of chapter – The availability of gender-disaggregated data in innovation supports the political commitment for the long-term promotion of women's participation in science and technology.

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