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Women have greater odds their U.S. patent applications will be rejected, study finds

by Cheryl Hogue
April 22, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 17

Women inventors are more likely to have U.S. patent applications rejected than men are, a recent study finds (Nat. Biotechnol., 2018, DOI: 10.1038/nbt.4120). A team from the Yale School of Management analyzed 2.7 million U.S. patent applications from 2001 through 2014 and used the first names of applicants to determine their probable gender. Women with a common female first name such as Mary had an 8.2% lower probability of getting their patent applications accepted. Women with rare first names that are strongly associated with gender but unknown to many people in the U.S. had an acceptance rate 2.8% lower than men, the study says. Policy-makers, companies, and inventors should take note of these results and consider possible changes to eliminate gender disparities, the authors say. For example, they suggest altering the U.S. patent system to require only initials for the first and middle names of applicants, thus keeping their gender hidden from patent examiners.

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Comments
Robert (April 22, 2018 8:38 PM)
The unstated assumption here is that men and women submitted applications of equal value - there are many reasons that might not be true that have nothing to do with sexism. Scientists know correlation does not equal causation, but they seem to forget that (and all their other critical thinking skills too) when some pop-progressive program is in view.

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