Does Gender Affect Work? Evidence from U.S. Patent Examination
65 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019 Last revised: 19 Jan 2020
Date Written: February 21, 2019
Does gender affect work quality and quantity? We study this question by leveraging the quasirandom assignment of patent applications to examiners, and micro-data on examiners’ work characteristics at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Under the USPTO’s incentive scheme that primarily rewards examination quantity, we document that female examiners exert more diligence in examining applications, and their average work quality is higher than that of male examiners. Women scrutinize each application more, but examine six percent fewer applications per quarter, and are four percent less likely to be promoted than men. These gender differences grow stronger as examiners become more senior and incentives increasingly reward examination quantity over quality. Additional tests suggest gender-based differences in work preferences, rather than differences in innate ability or discrimination, explain our findings.
Keywords: Gender, Patents, Innovation
JEL Classification: O31, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation