We celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th every year to acknowledge the achievements of women now and in history, raise awareness against bias and act for equality. This year’s campaign is centred around “balance is better”, giving us a chance to look more closely at the role of pioneering women in history and the differences they have made through innovation.

A place in history

Women have played a significant part in some of history’s most ground-breaking innovations, including: creating the first computer language (Ada Lovelace) and pioneering research in solar-powered technology (Maria Telkes), DNA (Rosalind Franklin) and stem cell isolation (Dr Ann Tsukamoto).

Many of the technological leaps being made in these multibillion-dollar industries today, continue to made possible by the innovative women of yesterday.

In 1911 Marie Curie was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel prize and the first person to obtain two Nobel prizes for the discovery of Polonium and Radium in 1911. When World War I broke out, her knowledge of X-rays and radiation helped save the lives of millions of wounded soldiers on the battle field. The power of radiation is also used to destroy cancer cells and continues to help millions of cancer patients every year.

A bright future

In 2019, pioneering women are continuing to drive innovation in new areas.

Consider Alice Zhang. Her company Verge Economics is using machine learning to develop drugs for complex diseases and in 2018 she was listed in Forbes’ prolific 30 under 30 list. Alisyn Malek – co-founder and COO of May Mobility – is spearheading the introduction of autonomous vehicles in her home city of Detroit. Her company will be the first of its kind to replace an existing transportation system with a self-driving one. While Jessica Matthews is a pioneer for sustainable innovation, developing technology that uses kinetic energy to generate clean energy. Her innovations may well transform energy use across the globe.

Women innovators are making significant moves, but there is still work to be done to drive better gender balance in the intellectual property (IP) industry.

Women in IP

While the number of women innovators awarded IP rights is increasing year-on-year, growth is slow. Progress and Potential: A profile of women inventors on U.S. patents - by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO - found growth in women inventorship, measured by the share of patents with at least one female inventor, is almost entirely due to women’s participation on gender-mixed teams. Women-owned patents increased by just six per cent between 1998 and 2016.

At CPA Global we continue to invest time in celebrating women in IP, supporting innovative leaders and industry professionals looking to drive change and promote balanced opportunities for all. It is in the best interest of companies, industries - and innovation as a whole - to support and nurture diversity. We look forward to the future being decidedly more female.

To mark World Intellectual Property Day in 2018, we celebrated 24 incredible inventions by 24 incredible women. View our full list of pioneering women innovators.