Women Inventors in the U.S. and Wyoming

Mar 6, 2019

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released Progress and Potential: A profile of women inventors on U.S. patents, a report on the trends and characteristics of U.S. women inventors named on U.S. patents granted from 1976 through 2016. The report issued by the USPTO’s Office of the Chief Economist shows that women still comprise a small minority of patented inventors and highlights an untapped potential of women to spur innovation in the United States.

The report delivers several important findings, including:

  • The share of patents that include at least one woman as an inventor increased from about 7 percent in the 1980s to 21 percent by 2016.
  • Even with this increase in patent counts, women inventors made up only 12 percent of all inventors on patents granted in 2016.
  • Gains in female participation in science and engineering occupations and entrepreneurship are not leading to broad increases in female inventors earning a patent.
  • Technology-intensive states, as well as those where women comprise a large percentage of the state’s overall workforce, show higher rates of women inventors.
  • Women inventors are increasingly concentrated in specific technologies, suggesting that women are specializing in areas where female predecessors have traditionally patented rather than entering into male-dominated fields.
  • Women are increasingly likely to patent on large, gender-mixed inventor teams, and are less likely than men to be an individual inventor on a granted patent.

Wyoming’s women inventors have contributed greatly to progress and economic development through their innovations. Here are tidbits on two of them from our Wyoming Inventors Database. For a more complete list from the Equality State, download Wyoming Women Inventors 1890-2018 (MS Word document).

  • The first Wyoming woman to receive a patent was Myrtle M. Wallin of Rock Springs. She received patent number 664,597 for a Work-Holder on December 25, 1900.
  • According to a U. S. Patent and Trademark Office report Buttons to Biotech: U.S. Patenting by Women, 1977 to 1996, Joan D. Sheridan of Cheyenne was the 19th most prolific woman inventor during 1992-1996. She received 20 patents.

The Wyoming State Library offers helpful information for inventors. Visit our Patent & Trademark Resource Center to learn more.

If you have a question about this or any other article, please contact us at statelibrary@wyo.gov

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