Gender Disparity in Surgical Device Patents: A 5-year Trend From Canada and the United States

J Surg Res. 2022 Aug 23;280:248-257. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2022.07.016. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Despite an increasing number of women pursuing careers in science, engineering, and medicine, gender disparities in patents persist. This study sought to analyze trends in inventor's gender for surgical device patents filed and granted in Canada and the United States from 2015 to 2019.

Methods: This study analyzed patents filed and granted by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) in the category of "Diagnosis; Surgery; Identification" and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the category of "Surgery" from 2015 to 2019. The gender of the patent applicants was determined using a gender algorithm that predicts gender based on first names. Gender matches with names having a probability of less than 95% were excluded.

Results: We identified 14,312 inventors on patents filed and 12,737 inventors on patents granted by the CIPO for "Diagnosis; Surgery; Identification". In the USPTO category of "Surgery," we identified 75,890 inventors on patents filed and 44,842 inventors on patents granted. Female inventors accounted for 7%-10% of inventors from 2015 to 2019 for both patents filed and granted. The proportion of female inventors on patents granted was significantly lower than for patents filed for four of the 5 y analyzed for both the USPTO and CIPO.

Conclusions: Female representation in surgical device patenting has stagnated, between 7 and 10%, from 2015 to 2019 in Canada and the United States. This underrepresentation of female inventors in surgical device patenting represents sizable gender disparity.

Keywords: Equity, diversity, and inclusion; Gender diversity; Patents; Surgery; Surgical device patents.