News On the Radar: 7/27/22

Here is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT’s radar recently and which we think will be of interest to you. The practices or content of the news gathered (while not endorsed or vetted by NCWIT) is meant to spark new conversations and ideas surrounding the current diversity statistics and trends in the tech workforce.

Did you know that new data suggest women’s patenting is increasing?

New research shows women’s IT patenting is at a new high. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) tracks changes in patenting trends along gender lines using U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records in partnership with 1790 Analytics. After compiling data dating back to 1980, the 2022 NCWIT Patent Report shows continued increases in patents filed by teams with at least one woman inventor. Highlights include:

In the last 5 years, approximately 10 percent of U.S.-invented IT patents were invented by women: Between 2011 and 2015, the patenting rate for women was 7.8 percent, up from the original report’s findings of 4.7 percent between 1980 and 2010.

Overall IT patenting is rapidly increasing: IT patenting has grown substantially in the last four decades. In the U.S. alone, it increased almost 17-fold, from 27,153 patents between 1980-1984 to 452,315 total patents from 2016-2020.

Meanwhile, women’s patenting rates are up 56-fold despite no increase in women’s participation in the computing workforce: For women inventors to increase their patenting share during this period, they had to increase patenting by higher-than-average growth rates. Women’s patenting increased 56-fold from 1980-1984 and 2017-2020, even as the percentage of women employed in IT either remained flat or decreased slightly.

Trends point to continuing progress: Although the overall level of women’s participation in IT patents remains relatively low, the trend shows an increase from 2 percent in 1980 to approximately 10 percent after 41 years of study. For evidence of growing inclusion in patenting, AI learning and computer software are leading.

Women’s patenting rates differ widely from one company to another: In some companies, women account for 20 percent to 30 percent of patents, while in others they account for only five percent of patents. This suggests that individual organizational environments do matter and can influence women’s patenting patterns.  

The original patent report was released in 2007, and looked at how rates had evolved in the 25 years between 1980 and 2005. A five-year update was released in 2012. This ten-year update compiles more than 40 years of data, and includes detailed breakdowns of how trends differ across specific companies, organizations, and sectors – which can help change leaders hone in on and identify what is working well in areas with higher rates of patenting for women.

Learn more about how you can foster inclusive technical cultures:

Did you know business and education leaders partnered with to sign an open letter urging state governments to make computer science a foundational part of K-12 education?

According to an article by Government Technology, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a heightened awareness of the importance of technology in our daily lives. The letter emphasizes that tech is central to every industry, and in order to prepare students for this environment, we must increase access to computing education.

As mentioned in the press release, “The coalition behind this effort is unprecedented in U.S. education, uniting the leaders and founders of large tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon, together with CEOs of companies across sectors, including American Express, Nike, Starbucks, Delta Airlines, AT&T, UPS, Walgreens, and Hasbro, as well as national education organizations such as Khan Academy, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.”

Interested in learning more about increasing access to computing education? Check out these NCWIT resources:

Did you know that when faculty focus on social belonging, student outcomes can improve?

new report from Student Experience Project (SEP), an organization of higher ed stakeholders committed to transforming the college student experience and creating equitable learning environments through innovative, evidence-based practices that increase degree attainment, finds that improved student experience predicts improved academic outcomes and engagement. The association between student experience and student outcomes is even more pronounced for students from structurally disadvantaged groups.

According to Higher Ed Dive, “The project chiefly theorizes that faculty are essential to improving the student experience and can do so with the right resources and institutional support.” As Diverse Education summarizes, “Over the 2020-21 academic year, SEP engaged with six partner universities, nine peer-learning network universities, 295 faculty, and roughly 10,000 students to develop and share practical, equitable approaches to classroom instruction and broader institutional practices to build a student-centered learning environment.” To underscore the impact of this kind of intervention, “Over the duration of each course, student experiences improved on average by 10.5 percent. For Black, Latinx, and Native American women experiencing high levels of financial stress, their student experiences improved by an average of 25 percent.”

Interested in learning more about making computing more welcoming to diverse students and breaking down barriers to participation? Check out these NCWIT resources:


Join the conversation
For the latest news about women and IT, links to new NCWIT resources and more, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Scroll to Top