According to The Patent and Trademark Office, the number of women receiving patents for their inventions rose from 2.6% in 1977 to 9.2% in 1996.
While women still lag far behind men, the recent increase is substantial. Women fared especially well in the field of chemical technology, where they claimed 15.7% of all patents issued. Inventor’s Digest publisher Joanne Hayes-Rines said that increases in the field of chemical technology constituted a large portion of the overall increase. While women are still more likely than men to win patents for personal care and household inventions, they have also made inroads into male-dominated industries.
Hayes-Rines also stated that increased access to financial resources and jobs in scientific industries has made a big difference for women. “They’re taken more seriously by banks when they need a loan, more seriously by manufacturers when they want to get a product made,” said Hayes-Rines. She also said that women benefitted from the feminist movement and from the creation of new industries like biotechnology where “old boys networks” either don’t exist or remain weak.