Women, Patents, and Trademarks

Women represent fewer than 15% of patent holders.  It is difficult to find verifiable statistics on registered trademarks, but one can assume that the percentage is within the same range.  The percentages continue to drop for other minority and underrepresented groups.

Whatever the number is, it’s not enough.  It’s a statistic that, when aligned with other data, speaks to the fact that not enough women are in our board rooms, executive leadership, and certain industries such as technology or insurance.  

I am actually part of that United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) percentage.  I own two registered trademarks with four more registrations in process.  I’m also part of the other statistics.  In fact, many of us are part of the undervoiced and underrepresented statistics, some more than others.  

Now, times are changing but at an extremely slow pace, and there is still room for improvement. Women continue to break glass ceilings, and there are still many “first woman in history to…” moments that my young daughter and I are witnessing firsthand.  More and more, our voices are being amplified.  Movements are gaining momentum.  Coverage is increasing.  Change is happening.  Good thing we believe in progress over perfection.  

I’ve been following Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and I’m impressed with many of the programs she and her team are curating and the platforms and opportunities to raise and elevate voices.  

Last year, she shared, “At the USPTO, we know that the broad diversity of our country is the number-one reason our nation continues to be inventive and innovative. This diversity drives our arts and culture, and our economic vitality and growth.”  She continued with, “Women’s entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity fosters technological advancement, enriches culture, and contributes to economic growth.”

Kathi was recently moderating the Empowering Women’s Entrepreneurship panel at the Consumer Technology Association Conference.  She was joined by Katherine Dei Cas of EMD Electronics, Suezette Robotham of Salesforce, and Sonia Wadhawan of Google.

There were so many amazing nuggets throughout their panel that I’ve grouped them into three themes.  I have always felt and lived synergies between women’s entrepreneurship and the GSD Factor attributes of being confident, inquisitive, imaginative, present, resilient, and influential, but to hear it said by these four key leaders that I highly respect and admire was validating, encouraging, and yes, empowering.

The three takeaways I have:

  1. Key actions to embody
  2. How to elevate your personal brand
  3. How to elevate and challenge your organization to do better

The key actions to embody:

  • Importance of having authenticity – being confident and bold even in our emotions, including empathy.
  • Leaning in and digging deeper, and being present – powerfully choosing when we need to be resilient or be present.
  • Asking questions – be inquisitive and curious.

How to elevate your personal brand:

  • Create a community, build relationships and then share your story – what I’ll add to this is build your GSD Factor Clan and Insiders Board.
  • Advocate and champion yourself – don’t be afraid to share and celebrate how amazing you are.
  • Mentor – not only are you influencing the next generation, you will learn from them and be just as impacted.

How to elevate and challenge your organization to do better:

  • Be intentional about setting up the organization to include diversity (people, thoughts, experiences).
  • Look for supplier diversity programs or ask if partners have one and how you can join it.
  • Support entrepreneurs internally to provide them with tools, technology, networks, etc.

Thank you to Kathi, Katherine, Suezette, and Sonia for so boldly sharing your stories; you all are inspiring GSD women that we can look up to, learn from, and point to as wonderful examples for our tiny humans to learn from.  

Now here is to all of us finding those individuals and opportunities to empower more women in tech.  Let’s GSD!