Patent News

Jul. 21, 2016

The Atlantic: Why Do Women Inventors Hold So Few Patents?, by Adrienne Lafrance

This article originally appeared in The Atlantic on July 21, 2016.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is the most prolific inventor in IBM history. She also happens to be a woman, a detail that’s notable perhaps only because of the outsized number of men who hold patents in the United States.

DeLuca, who’s focused on wearables and mobile security, has more than 400 patents and patent applications in her name. (One recent invention is a device that shares her home network’s Wi-Fi password to approved visitors when they walk in the door, according to Security Intelligence, an IBM publication.)

Since 1977, women have quintupled their representation among patent holders, yet they still hold “an extremely small share of patents,” according to a new paperby the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Four decades ago, 3 percent of all patents listed at least one woman inventor. As of 2010, nearly 19 percent of patents did. Overall, more than 81 percent of patents include no women.