Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

European study of gender aspects of inventions - Statistical survey and analysis of gender impact on inventions

Final Report Summary - ESGI (European study of gender aspects of inventions - Statistical survey and analysis of gender impact on inventions)

The European Union's aim is to be the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by the year 2010, therefore the full range of innovative and inventive potential of the society should be incorporated.

The scarcity of women in inventive activities within the EU means that their innovative potential is less likely to contribute to the technological knowledge creation in the European Union. In consequence, this may lead to biased technology development since personal and professional experience of men and women flows into design and production of technologies. We can assume that the unsatisfactory integration of human capital in the innovation process severely affects the goals of gender mainstreaming and excellence in science. Women are significantly contributing to European patents, yet their high potential is not fully integrated in the innovation process. Given that economic success mainly relies on innovation, women's underrepresentation in research and development in the European Union should be of special concern to European policy makers.

Intellectual property production is an important part of the innovation process in which inventors, being patent originators, are seen as central actors in the innovation process. Being an inventor means to gain intellectual recognition, advantages in accumulation of professional opportunities as well as contribution to the visible and marketable technical knowledge creation. Thus, the underrepresentation of women in patenting not only leads to biased technology development and personal disadvantages, but it furthermore implies an unacceptable loss of intellectual resources that could hamper the development of the European society in the long run.

The discrepancy between the high achievement of women in the education system on the one side and their lower contribution to the scientific knowledge creation and innovation process on the other side exhibits a striking deficit of gender equality. In failing to make the best use of their female scientific population, most countries are under investing in their human capital to assure gender equality in innovation.

Moreover, the discrepancy displays a lack of efficiency, a productivity loss as well as a risk for the economic and societal development in Europe. For a globalised European economy, which increasingly focuses on sustainable development of its human resources, it is of greatest importance to entirely include women's potential for the growth and well-being of all European societies.