Gender and Commercial Science: Women's Patenting in the Life Sciences

Posted: 18 Nov 2009

Date Written: 2005


The focus of this research is to investigate the role that the gender of life scientists plays in patenting in both academia and industry.The sample group used consists of 1,084 life science PhDs who were enrolled in a university program that obtained a national research award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The patent data is from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) covering the period from January 1963 to December 1999 for patents and from 1975 to 1999 for patent citations. The statistical analysis shows women engage less in patent activity and produce fewer patents than males.However, the analysis also shows that the patents produced by these women are equal to or better in terms of quality and impact than those of their male counterparts. Because there appear to be no significant differences in the rate at which the two genders patent in academia and industry, the difference in their involvement in patenting (women in academia have less involvement) may be a result of unequal opportunities to engage in patenting.Given the high quality and applicability of the work of those women who do patent, universities and industry would be best served by allocating resources which allow these women to commercialize. (SRD)

Keywords: Scholarly publishing, Life sciences, Intellectual property, Publications, Females, Scientists, Patent productivity, Gender, Colleges & universities, Private sector, Commercialization, Patents

Suggested Citation

Whittington, Kjersten Bunker and Smith-Doerr, Laurel, Gender and Commercial Science: Women's Patenting in the Life Sciences (2005). The Journal of Technology Transfer, Vol. 30, Issue 4, p. 355-370 2005. Available at SSRN:

Kjersten Bunker Whittington (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Laurel Smith-Doerr

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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