Women Speak Up About the Invention and Patenting Obstacles They Face, Invent Together

July 14, 2021

At age 17, Alissa Chavez became the youngest Latina patent holder in the United States. Her invention, Hot Seat, is an alarm system intended to prevent a parent from accidentally leaving a child in a hot car. Chavez introduced the idea for Hot Seat at her eighth-grade science fair. She advanced to the semi-finals and caught the attention of a patent attorney who encouraged her to file for a patent. Chavez has sold hundreds of Hot Seats, and continues to invent new products to help parents, including the EasyFlo baby bottle, which allows parents to transport and mix formula and water on the go, all in a single container.

Sadly, Alissa’s story is far and few. Many women have difficulty overcoming the complex, time consuming and expensive patenting process.

A 2019 study from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) found that only 20 percent of U.S. patents list a woman as an inventor. Even more troubling, only 12 percent of all inventors listed on U.S. patents were women.

Now a recent study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), an organization focused on improving the lives of and creating opportunities for women, captures the personal stories of 16 women innovators and explores the unique difficulties female inventors – and particularly female inventors of color – face throughout the innovation and patenting process. Women spoke about their experience with the patenting process and how expectations around household or caregiving duties and ongoing stereotypes, discrimination, and bias impacted their journeys.

On Tuesday, July 20, Invent Together and IWPR are joining forces to present the new research results with leading women inventors including: Elyse Shaw, study director, Renae Fossum, research fellow at Procter & Gamble, Maria Anturduaga, founder and CEO of Respira Labs, Katherine Jin, co-founder and CTO at Kinnos and moderator Holly Fechner, executive director of Invent Together.

We encourage you to attend this event and learn from experts what’s working, what’s not, and how we can support women innovators better.