When it comes to the participation of women in inventions, Germany is at the bottom of the list in Europe. According to the European Patent Office (EPO), only every tenth inventor named in German applications to the European Patent Office is female. This is the third lowest value among the states participating in the EPO for the period from 2010 to 2019. Only in Liechtenstein and Austria is the proportion even lower.
In Europe, things can be done differently, for example in Latvia with a proportion of women of 30.6 percent, Portugal (26.8 percent), Croatia (25.8) and Spain (23.2). France, too, with 16.6 percent, is well ahead of Germany and above the European average of 13.2 percent.
Internationally, China with 26.8 percent and South Korea with 28.3 percent leave Germany far behind. At 15 percent, the USA also fared significantly better. Only Japan is in the group of countries with the highest number of patents with 9.5 percent just behind the Federal Republic.
Within Germany, the highest proportion of women can be found in the north and east. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania comes to 16.5 percent, Hamburg to 16.4 and Berlin to 13.2 percent. In contrast, Baden-Württemberg with 7.5, Bavaria with 8.0 and Lower Saxony with 8.4 percent perform below average.
According to the EPA expert Ilja Rudyk, the technology mix also contributes to the weak German performance. In the Federal Republic he is more on mechanical and electrical engineering. At 5.2 and 7.3 percent, respectively, these two areas have significantly below-average proportions of women in patent applications across Europe. The technology area with the highest proportion of women, on the other hand, is chemistry with 22.4 percent.
In addition, private companies in Germany have an above-average proportion of patent applications - although the proportion of women is lower than in universities and public institutions. And even the universities and public institutions in Germany perform below average: While the proportion of female inventors is 19.4 percent in Europe, it is only 13.7 percent in Germany.
The study shows gaps that need to be closed "in order to exploit the full potential of female inventors in Europe," said EPO President António Campinos. "While some progress has been made over the last few decades, more needs to be done to increase women's participation in patents." The promotion of women in science and innovation is a major challenge for Europe and a key factor for future viability and competitiveness.