Posted by: Amelia | September 13, 2007

Patently Female

Who knew patents had a gender angle? Via Jezebel, a Forbes article says that “mixed-gender teams’ technology patents received up to 42% more citations than their single-gender counterparts.” This means, more or less, that the ideas and innovations patented by mixed-gender tech teams were more useful to subsequent programmers and inventors. Money quote:

“Our data show that diversity of thought matters to innovation,” says NCWIT Chief Executive Lucinda Sanders, who holds six telecom software patents. “We can say involving women is important because women are half the population and have good ideas, but our study shows the impact for companies.”

Sadly, mixed-gender teams are rare. Women were named in only 6.1% of tech patents in 2005. In overall patents, women accounted for 10.9% in 2002. Since patents = economic potential, it’s a little troubling that one gender would control so much of the patent market. Of course, male inventors and innovators are fully entitled to reap the benefits of their research and labor. But ladies, if you’ve got good ideas, go patent them!

Because female patenting is still so rare, technology companies are missing out on countless contributions by unknown women. “We don’t know what they would invent. We don’t know what problems they would solve,” Sanders said.

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