Friday, December 4, 2020
Jessica Lai, Patents and Gender: A Contextual Analysis, 10(3) Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property 283-305 (2020)
Patent law is considered to be an objective law, dealing with the objective subject matter of the “technical arts”. Yet, empirical studies show that patenting rates around the world are gendered. This article analyses the roots of the gender patent gap, and how this correlates to the invention and innovation processes. It shows that the gendered nature of the patent-regulated knowledge governance system forces women into traditionally male spaces and fields in order to partake in the extant patent game. Yet, when they enter those spaces and fields, they often find themselves unwelcome and subject to institutional, structural or organisational biases, which impinge upon their ability to invent, patent and commercialise.
The article re-frames the discourse around women inventors. It argues that we have to stop focusing on the “women in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM)” narrative, because it is a distraction from the underlying problem that the Western knowledge governance system reflects the hegemonic powers at play. Instead, we need to re-think the knowledge governance system and the ecosystem it creates, in order to ensure egalitarian knowledge production and protection.