Following its Annual Meeting at the end of September, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) has launched a 96-page “Gender Diversity in Innovation Toolkit” aimed at closing the gender gap between male and female inventors.

Despite over 55% of Ph.D. students in the US being female, only around 12% of the world’s patents are held solely by female inventors, although there are significant geographical differences – in Korea and China women hold almost 50% of registered patents. As of 2018, only 22% of the workforce of the combined global STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) industries were female.

The IPO’s Women in IP Committee have designed the four-step toolkit to enable companies and educational establishments to recognize and remove barriers to entry for girls and young women seeking to become inventors.

Broadly speaking, the toolkit outlines these four key steps as: 1) Increasing awareness and support of gender disparity within an organization; 2) Discovering the root causes of that disparity; 3) Developing short and long-term programs to address those root causes; and 4) Launching and monitoring those programs.

According to the toolkit itself: “Women and diverse employees have technical skill and knowledge, yet their contributions are not patented at the same rate as those of their male counterparts … The insights and perspectives of women are necessary to solve the monumental challenges our organizations face. This toolkit can help organizations move the needle on achieving gender parity in innovation”.

The toolkit, which will be continually updated, contains detailed guidance on each step. It can be downloaded from the IPO’s website (ipo.org).

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