The data shows that fewer women than men use the intellectual property system
Innovation and creativity are the engines to women innovators overcome gender disparity, for human progress. By innovation, we mean new products or new ways of doing things, and by creativity we mean new forms of original artistic expression which is portrayed in songs, books, pictures, films and other emerging media.
Since the beginning of time, both female and male innovators and creators have transformed our world through the power of their imagination. Today new innovations and forms of artistic expression are evolving for women innovators overcome gender disparity, at an unprecedented rate. All the products that we enjoy today are the result of years of research and development, experimentation and invention. They are all effectively creations of the human mind.
That makes innovation immensely valuable in economic terms. In fact, a recent study by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) found that modern manufacturing intangible assets like inventions, designs and specialist knowledge are worth nearly twice as much as tangible assets like raw materials. The cultural value of creative works is incalculable. Stories, music and the visual arts are means by which people and societies express and share their deepest identities and weave a rich cultural heritage. They are literally priceless.
How the Intellectual Property System Supports Innovation and Creativity:
Therefore all lies in our interests to support innovation and creativity. That is what the intellectual property (IP) system seeks to do. There are many different types of rights protecting different types of IP such as inventions, designs and creative works. In general, they serve one main purpose: to encourage more innovation and creativity by making sure that innovators and creators can gain a fair reward for their work and earn a living from it.
IP rights allow rights holders to stop other people from copying or using their IP without their permission. This means that rights holders are able to charge a reasonable price for using IP that is economically valuable. The prospect of an economic reward encourages people and businesses to invest in developing useful innovations and creations.
Most IP rights last for a limited time only, and can only be acquired when certain conditions are met. There are also rules that allow the women innovators to overcome gender disparity under certain limited circumstances. There are different types of IP which can function without the rights holder’s permission. These arrangements help ensure that that there is a balance between the interests of innovators and creators and those of the general public, so that everyone get benefits from IP.
Evidence Shows Fewer Women Use the IP System than Men:
The IP system is designed to be open to anyone who meets the conditions set out in national IP laws. Different countries determine their IP laws within a framework of regional and international treaties developed over many years to provide balanced and effective protection.
But the system is not used equally by everyone. Certain countries and regions outperform others when it comes to producing IP, and there are also significant disparities between men and women when it comes to acquiring and owning IP rights.
Analysis from WIPO shows that less than one-third of all international patent applications filed in 2015 included women inventors. That was a big improvement on the 1995 figure of just 17 percent, with some countries and regions performing notably better than the global average. Nonetheless, the standout fact is that far more men than women gain patents for their inventions.
Closing the Gender Gap Would Benefit Everyone:
The IP gap for women innovators overcome gender disparity should concern us all. Gender equality is a human right and the necessary foundation for peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Not only is it one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; it is mainstreamed in all the Goals.
Furthermore, anything that restricts innovation and creativity means we are all less well-off. It means we are missing out on the potential benefits of those “lost” great ideas.
There is plenty of evidence that increased participation by women improves the innovation performance of organizations and societies. Research shows that diverse, inclusive teams are more innovative, and diverse companies are more profitable.
In part, this is simply a question of numbers: by widening the pool of talent, one increases the chances of valuable new insights emerging. But women can also bring a different perspective, and women innovators help to ensure that new products and processes meet the needs of the whole population, not just the male half.
So, there is also a clear business case for encouraging more women to use the IP system.
Barriers to Women Innovators and Creators:
Women are clearly not inherently less innovative or creative than men. Countless examples of women innovators overcome gender disparity in every region of the world have proved that time and again.
- Most importantly, the IP gender gap reflects widespread gender inequality in social and economic life. For example, in most countries fewer girls than boys study scientific, technical, engineering and medical (STEM) subjects. In consequence, a relatively low proportion of women work in the sort of fields that produce most technical innovation.
- In part, these wider inequalities reflect prejudices, preconceptions and stereotypes about girls and women. All-too-many people – girls and women as well as boys and men – still think of women as being limited to certain traditional roles rather than potential leaders in science, technology, business and arts. If stereotypes are not challenged, inequality can be self-perpetuating: girls and young women may lack role models to inspire them to fulfil their potential.
- Inequality is also caused by inflexible economic and social structures which can restrict women’s career prospects. The problem of the “glass ceiling” is notorious. Talented women may succeed as students and in the early stages of their careers, but they miss out on promotions later on, especially if they take time out to have children. Organizations and societies need to find ways to allow women (and men) to combine work and family life.
- There may also be issues that relate more specifically to the IP system. Developing some types of IP, especially patents, may involve significant financial commitment, and there is an argument that women prioritize the stability of their family income, making them more risk averse than men.