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April 26, 2023 News

Women designers underrepresented and paid less in the EU, study reveals

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) today published a first-of-its-kind study on Women in Design, revealing a significant gender gap and wage disparity in the design industry within the EU. The study, coinciding with World Intellectual Property Day, found that only 24% of designers in the EU are women, and it would take over 50 years to close this gap at the current pace. Additionally, women designers earn 12.8% less on average than their male colleagues.



There are notable differences among EU member states, with the proportion of women designers ranging from 17% in the Netherlands to 33% in Latvia. The EUIPO study examined data from the Registered Community Design (RCD) filings and found that only 21% of the designs registered by EU-based owners listed at least one woman designer.

The gender gap in design is shrinking at a slow pace within the EU; at the current rate of improvement, parity would not be reached for another 51 years. Meanwhile, some non-EU countries have a higher proportion of women designers with South Korea, China, and the US found to have nearly half or around 40% of their designs applications with women designers involved.



The study also found that women designers earn on average 12.8% less than their male counterparts. While factors such as age and working conditions may contribute to this wage gap, there remains an unexplained 8% pay disparity.

EUIPO Executive Director, Christian Archambeau, emphasised the importance of gender equality in all fields, including intellectual property: “Gender equality is one of the fundamental goals of the EU. It is also an imperative in all walks of life, including in the field of intellectual property. Most of the gender-related studies carried out to date have focused on inventors and patents. With this new EUIPO study, focusing on women designers and their participation in the EUIPO’s Registered Community Design system, we hope to bring attention to the existing gender gap and to inspire more women to pursue careers in the field of design, promoting a more diverse and inclusive profession.”

The study also revealed the types of products most frequently designed by women, including pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, articles of adornment, and textile piece goods. In contrast, women designers least frequently work on musical instruments, arms, pyrotechnic articles, articles for hunting, fishing, pest killing, building units, and construction elements.

To promote gender balance in the IP world, the EUIPO currently participates in the Girls Go Circular initiative. Coordinated by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and the Women and Girls in STEM Forum, the initiative is organised as part of the Ideas Powered@school program.



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