Recent recommended changes to Australia’s patent laws could narrow the scope of patentable inventions. We argue this could have a comparatively bigger impact on female inventors who we find clustered in the life sciences. We examine 309,544 patent applications filed with IP Australia (the majority from international applicants) across a 15-year period (2001–15) and attribute a gender to 941,516 inventor names. Only 23.6% of patent applications in this dataset include at least 1 female inventor. The average overall success rate irrespective of gender was 75.0%, but the odds of success increased with increasing numbers of male inventors on a team. The addition of female inventors to a team did not have the same effect. We propose that the gender disparity could arise from implicit gender effects (examiner or patentee) during patent prosecution.
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