The US Patent and Trademark Office and the Department of Commerce recently announced an initiative to support women entrepreneurs by providing advice and resources to help them find funding, protect their intellectual property, and expand their access to mentorship. This initiative, called Women’s Entrepreneurship, exists to inspire women and help them tap their potential to increase equity, job creation, and economic prosperity.
Said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, “Women are still vastly underrepresented in leadership positions in the U.S., and the percentage of women who decide to pursue an entrepreneurial career is lower than that of men.” Compared to men, women are severely underrepresented as business owners. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, men have an ownership stake in about 80% of U.S. businesses and a majority ownership share in 63% of U.S. businesses, whereas, women hold an ownership stake in only about 37% of U.S. businesses, and had a majority share in only 21% of businesses. Only about 13% of patents are held by women, according to the USPTO.
The new initiative is designed to address these disparities. “[O]ur goal is to increase the number of women-led businesses to bolster jobs, consumer choice, and our economic prosperity,” said Vidal. There will be a new online hub to provide key information and videos on how to get started in business, identifying and protecting intellectual property, options for securing funding, tips from successful women entrepreneurs, and building and maintaining a network. Vidal stressed the important of protecting your IP, saying it “is a must to attract investment and to prevent other companies from taking these ideas from you.”