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Intellectual Property and Gender - 29 January 2020

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Over the past several decades, gender studies have attracted the attention of scholars in numerous areas of law, mainly in criminal law, family law, human rights, employment law, tax, and business law. However, only recently have legal scholars started to look at gender issues in intellectual property laws. For instance, copyright historically focused on the ‘fine arts’, including sculpture, music, painting and literature, areas that were dominated by men, while ‘domestic crafts’ such as needlework, traditional fiber arts and knitting, associated with women and home handicraft, fell outside of copyrightable subject matter in the past. Although the social views on gender and IP laws have changed a lot, empirical research demonstrated that latent gender bias, especially in patenting, still remains. In this session, we will investigate whether intellectual property has a gender, how gender insights from non-IP doctrine can be applied to bridge the gender gap in IP, and measures on ensuring equitable systems of encouraging innovation and creativity.


Dan L Burk, ‘Bridging the Gender Gap in Intellectual Property’ (2018) WIPO Magazine


Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, ‘Patenting and the Gender Gap: Should Women Be Encouraged to Patent More?’ (2013) 19 Science and Engineering Ethics 491. Available at


Ann Bartow, ‘Fair Use and the Fairer Sex: Gender, Feminism, and Copyright Law’ (2006) 14 American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 551 <>

Additional Reading:

Katharine T Bartlett, Deborah L Rhode and Joanna L Grossman, Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine, Commentary (7th edn, Aspen Casebook 2016)

M R Kirkwood, ‘Equality of Property Interests Between Husband and Wife’ (1923-1924) 8 Minn L Rev 579 <>

Wendy Syfret, ‘how women are changing the world with textiles’ i-D Vice (14 November 2016) <>

Kevin J Greene, ‘Intellectual Property at the Intersection of Race and Gender: Lady Sings the Blues’ (2008) 16 American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 365. Available at

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