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Female PhD Students Have Fewer Opportunities to Become Inventors Than Male Students

Female STEM PhD students are less likely than their male counterparts to be inventors, a new study reports. Investigators from Copenhagen Business School and MIT analyzed the career trajectories of about 185,000 PhD students who graduated between 1995 and 2015 from the top 25 universities in the US by patent count and found that 4 percent of students became new inventors, as they report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In particular, PhD students whose faculty advisors are top inventors were 10 times more likely to file their first patent during training than students with other advisors. Meanwhile, female PhD students have a lower probability of becoming new inventors than their male counterparts because they are less likely to be matched with top inventor-advisors and are less likely to be trained by male top inventors, they found. "By offering further training for PhDs, especially women, to become new inventors, we would create a cumulative advantage across their careers and improve innovation throughout the economy," the authors say.