World Intellectual Property Day 2023: New WIPO Data on Women Designers Underline Need for Increased Participation by Women in Innovation and Creativity

GENEVA – Women account for only around one in five designers behind the look and feel of products from simple packaging to mobile phones and automotive exteriors, according to new WIPO data released on World Intellectual Property Day, underlining the need to ramp up efforts to bridge a “gender gap” in intellectual property (IP)-backed innovation.

Geneva, April 26, 2023

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Women account for only around one in five designers behind the look and feel of products from simple packaging to mobile phones and automotive exteriors, according to new WIPO data released on World Intellectual Property Day, underlining the need to ramp up efforts to bridge a “gender gap” in intellectual property (IP)-backed innovation.

World IP Day is celebrated each April 26, with the 2023 campaign theme entitled “Women and IP: Accelerating innovation and creativity.” Previous findings show that only about 16% of inventors listed in international patent applications – one metric of human innovation – are women, which is now mirrored by new data on women’s participation in industrial design applications.

According to preliminary statistics on design activity across the globe in 2022, women accounted for around 21 percent of listed designers in global industrial design applications found in WIPO’s Global Design Database, which covers some 80 % of total worldwide design activity.

While that figure has doubled since 2001, parity with men is not expected until 2099 at current rates. This “gender gap,” now evidenced in two important IP rights, underscores the need for collective action to ensure that women’s potential across the globe is tapped for humanity’s collective benefit.

Data on applications relating to industrial design rights and patent rights provide important benchmarks for measuring different types of innovation activities in the global economy.

Patent rights provide protection for cutting-edge product or process inventions while industrial designs rights protect the aesthetic design of goods. Both indicators signal the ability of inventors and designers –individuals, companies and organizations – to benefit from the protection of their ideas.

The low representation of women in industrial design and patent applications suggests a persistent gender gap across innovation measures. This is concerning and indicates that women’s innovative potential is underutilised, resulting in a loss for everyone.

Separately, to mark World IP Day, the winners of the 2023 Video Competition are being unveiled, following an online public vote in which over 23160 people participated, casting nearly 60000 votes. A total of 183 videos were submitted by entrants from 73 countries.

The competition, launched in January 2023, called on participants to submit a 90-second video around the theme: “When women enter the IP universe, we accelerate innovation and creativity and everyone’s a winner,” showing why it is important for girls and women to understand IP and its benefits.

The first prize goes to Chaoying Zhang (China) for “Artistic Beauty of Li Brocade,” which recounts how the Li women of Hainan Island in China are using IP rights to enhance and add value to their traditional Li Brocade fabrics.

Second prize goes to Neelima Bogadhi (India) for “Saga of the Women of Etikoppaka,” which relays how the rural women of Etikoppaka in Andhra Pradesh are generating livelihoods through their wood-crafted, geographical indication (GI)-protected toys.

Third prize goes to Lorraine Juarbe (Puerto Rico) from the Law School of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, for “Registra tu obra (Register your work),”which highlights the importance of women protecting their IP rights and the benefits of diversity in innovation and creativity.

The prizes include digital equipment to the value of CHF 5000 (first prize), CHF 3000 (second prize) and CHF 1000 (third prize).


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More on Women Designers

Women’s participation in design activity as reflected in WIPO’s Global Design Database has been increasing over the past two decades, with the share of listed women designers doubled from 10 percent to 20 percent from 2001 to 2020.

Applicants from Asia, North America and Europe are the main contributors of industrial designs and, in turn, the regions with the highest number of women designers. The participation of women designers has increased across these three regions over the last two decades. While Asia and Europe have observed the largest increase in the share of women’s participation during the period, these regions have also observed the largest slowdown over the last five years.

In terms of specialisation, the textiles and accessories sector shows the highest share of women designers listed in industrial design applications, with advertising and packaging not far behind.

What is WIPO doing?

WIPO is actively working to support women in bridging the IP and gender gap and to encourage and advance their full participation in the IP ecosystem, both through systematic gender mainstreaming and targeted activities.

WIPO’s commitment to a world where innovation and creativity by women is supported by IP, for the good of everyone, is embodied in our first Intellectual Property and Gender Action Plan (IPGAP). The IPGAP is WIPO’s strategic plan to promote women’s engagement in all aspects of IP and innovation. Through the IPGAP, WIPO will raise awareness about the economic benefits of strengthening the role of women in innovative and creative activities. It will help equip governments and stakeholders with data and policymaking tools to improve national ecosystems in support of women and girls, and deliver concrete impact-driven projects and programs that encourage women’s use of IP in their entrepreneurial activities.

About World IP Day

In 2000, WIPO’s member states designated April 26 – the day on which the WIPO Convention came into force in 1970 – as World Intellectual Property Day with the aim of increasing general understanding of intellectual property. Since then, World IP Day has offered a unique opportunity each year to join with others around the globe to consider how IP contributes to the flourishing of music and the arts and to driving the technological innovation that helps shape our world.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.