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Why Don't Women Patent?

  • Jennifer Hunt
  • Jean-Philippe Garant
  • Hannah Herman
  • David J. Munroe

We investigate women's underrepresentation among holders of commercialized patents: only 5.5% of holders of such patents are female. Using the National Survey of College Graduates 2003, we find only 7% of the gap is accounted for by women's lower probability of holding any science or engineering degree, because women with such a degree are scarcely more likely to patent than women without. Differences among those without a science or engineering degree account for 15%, while 78% is accounted for by differences among those with a science or engineering degree. For the latter group, we find that women's underrepresentation in engineering and in jobs involving development and design explain much of the gap; closing it would increase U.S. GDP per capita by 2.7%.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17888.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Publication status: published as Why are women underrepresented amongst patentees? Original Research Article Research Policy, Volume 42, Issue 4, May 2013, Pages 831-843 Jennifer Hunt, Jean-Philippe Garant, Hannah Herman, David J. Munroe
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17888
Note: LS PR
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  1. Basit Zafar, 2009. "College major choice and the gender gap," Staff Reports 364, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Jennifer Hunt, 2010. "Why Do Women Leave Science and Engineering?," NBER Working Papers 15853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Furman, Jeffrey L. & Porter, Michael E. & Stern, Scott, 2002. "The determinants of national innovative capacity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 899-933, August.
  4. Kjersten Whittington & Laurel Smith-Doerr, 2005. "Gender and Commercial Science: Women’s Patenting in the Life Sciences," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 355-370, October.
  5. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2011. "Math or Science? Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Examine the Process of Choosing a College Major," NBER Working Papers 16869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michael J. Boskin & Lawrence J. Lau, 2000. "Generalized Solow-Neutral Technical Progress and Postwar Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 8023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lisa D. Cook & Chaleampong Kongcharoen, 2010. "The Idea Gap in Pink and Black," NBER Working Papers 16331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Fiona Murray & Leigh Graham, 2007. "Buying science and selling science: gender differences in the market for commercial science," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 657-689, August.
  9. Paula Stephan & Shiferaw Gurmu & Albert Sumell & Grant Black, 2007. "Who'S Patenting In The University? Evidence From The Survey Of Doctorate Recipients," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 71-99.
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