World Intellectual Property Day 2018 Celebrates Women’s Accomplishments: New WIPO Figures Show Highest-Ever Rate of Women Inventors, but Gender Gap Persists

Geneva, April 26, 2018
PR/2018/817

The fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemistry show the highest rates of women named as inventors in international patent applications filed via WIPO, new figures indicate, as World IP Day 2018 celebrates women driving positive change across the globe.

New data reveal that in total, women were listed in 31 percent of the 243,500 international patent applications published by WIPO in 2017, up from 23 percent a decade earlier (see Annex 1 PDF, Annex 1, PCT applications with women inventors for all data).

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said these new data show positive trends and underlined this year’s World IP Day theme “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity.” But he noted that a pronounced gender gap exists.

“Today we celebrate the innovative, creative accomplishments of women around the globe and across history who expand the frontiers of knowledge and culture,” said Mr. Gurry. “However, international patent applications are an important benchmark for measuring innovative activity in the contemporary, global economy - and anything less than full parity between men and women is an obvious cause for concern.”

animated gif 2018 World IP Day

Fifty percent of applications from the Republic of Korea listed at least one woman inventor, the highest among the 152 user countries of WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), followed by China (48 percent), Belgium (36 percent), Spain (35 percent) and the United States of America (33 percent) (Annex 2 PDF, Annex 2, Share of PCT applications with women inventors, 2017 for top 20).

Mr. Gurry said he was heartened by the comparatively high rates of women participating in the research-intensive areas of biotechnology (58 percent of all WIPO international patent applications in 2017), pharmaceuticals (56 percent), organic fine chemistry (55 percent) and food chemistry (51 percent) (Annex 3 PDF, Annex 3, Share of PCT applications with women inventors in 2017).

Of the top 30 biggest corporate users of the PCT, Republic of Korea’s LG Chemicals had the highest rate of women listed as inventors with 73 percent (Annex 4 PDF, Annex 4, Share of PCT applications with women inventors in 2017, by Company (among top 20)), followed by Switzerland’s F. Hoffman –La Roche (69 percent), L’Oreal of France (67 percent), USA’s Dow Global Technologies (63 percent) and Germany’s Henkel Kommanditgesellchaft Auf Aktien with 62 percent.

Among academic institutions, Republic of Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea ranked first with 83.3 percent (Annex 5 PDF, Annex 5, Share of PCT applications with women inventors in 2017, by Academic Institution (among top 20)), followed closely by four Chinese organizations: Shenzhen Institute of Advance Technology (82.7 percent), Jiangnan University (82.5 percent), Tsinghua University (80 percent) and Jiangsu University (80 percent).

About World IP Day

WIPO’s member states initiated World IP Day in 2000 to raise public awareness about the role of IP in daily life, and to celebrate the contribution made by innovators and creators to the development of societies across the globe. World IP Day is celebrated annually on April 26, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force in 1970.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 191 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations Section at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
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