Women and Intellectual Property
On April 26, the world celebrated World Intellectual Property Day under the theme “Women and Intellectual Property: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity.” To celebrate the occasion, a hybrid event was held at the ABPI headquarters in Rio, where experts discussed gender, race, and career issues in the field of intellectual property.
During the event, Andrea da Luz from Fiocruz and Angela Donaggio from consulting firm Virtuous Company discussed the increasing female participation in the intellectual property market but also pointed out that it is still low. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), only 16.2% of international patent applications in 2022 had women as holders.
In her presentation, Andrea da Luz, Coordinator of the Gender and Race Committee at Fiocruz, reminded the audience that although 56% of the Brazilian population consists of black people, this percentage is far from being represented in the job market. She listed some of the institution’s events aimed at reducing this discrepancy, such as those focused on women in science and the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as other actions to increase the presence of black people, people with disabilities, and trans people at Fiocruz. “The main action is to make gender and race issues cross-cutting in all areas of Fiocruz,” she said.
Angela Donaggio, in turn, pointed out the “unconscious biases” that reproduce inequality that permeates all social environments, from corporate to institutional, academic to domestic. According to her, these biases are more pronounced in “leadership niches,” which makes change more difficult. “What should be a priority with leaders is to ensure a psychologically safe environment and an ethical culture with diverse groups, which will make them feel secure to be creative and innovative.”
The panel on careers in IP brought together, moderated by WIPO consultant Marli Elizabeth Ritter dos Santos, federal judge Márcia Maria Nunes de Barros, BPTO professor Adelaide Maria de Souza, audiovisual producer Débora Ivanov, and lawyers Letícia Provedel and Priscilla Japiassú. They presented, through their professional experiences, the difficulties faced in building a career and the low representation of women in the corporate environment.
According to Judge Márcia Maria Nunes de Barros, the judicial sector has 38% female participation, a percentage that has been declining in recent years. However, in higher courts, it is predominantly male. For example, at the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF), the percentage of women is around 18%. “The societal markers imposed have never been fair to women,” she stated.
In the audiovisual industry, the statistics speak for themselves. Débora Ivanov presented 2018 data from ANCINE (Brazilian Film Agency) proving that women’s presence in this sector is significantly lower than that of men. For instance, in directorial positions for feature films, the participation of Black individuals is zero regarding women and only 2.1% regarding men. The presence of White individuals in this role is significantly higher concerning men (75.4%), but it is not very representative concerning women (19.7%). “As long as we do not change this scenario, we will perpetuate prejudices and stereotypes and hinder the construction of a fairer and more balanced world,” she said.
Lawyer Letícia Provedel also pointed out the low presence of women in the legal field. She gave the example of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), which “since 1930 has only had men as presidents,” or even the chambers of the São Paulo Court of Justice, which are predominantly male. However, she noted that there has been an increase in the presence of women, at least in the corporate world. “Clients themselves are demanding the presence of women,” she explained.
After a successful career in the chemical and petrochemical industry, Adelaide Souza has been a permanent professor in the Ph.D. and Master’s degree programs at the BPTO for over 13 years. However, to succeed in this industry, which is essentially male-dominated, she often had to assert herself. “In some cases, women need to assert themselves, to position themselves emphatically to be heard,” she said.
Priscilla Japiassú, a Master’s student in Innovation and IP at the INPI academy, emphasized that bringing up this topic is very important for society. “We are the majority in IP, and we need more women talking about this subject. I am honored to be together with these women who are paving the way and inspiring us daily,” she concluded.