Research database

FemaleStars - The making of female star innovators: a patent-based analysis of peer effects

12 months (2022)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Non-EU international research
Funding body:
ALTRI ENTI EUROPEI (Université Paris-Dauphine - PSL)
PoliTo role:
Sole Contractor


This project examines the factors that underlie the success of women inventors in obtaining patents by looking at the peer effects that support the development of “stars”, i.e. outstanding innovators. We build on the notion that the exposure to specific innovation networks is key to the making of successful innovators and to overcome discriminations, bias and underrepresentation (Bell et al. 2019). Our analysis contributes to several streams of literature in economics, innovation management and gender studies, especially on inventors’ characteristics and networks influencing innovation outcomes (Jung and Ejermo 2014, Wang et al 2020), scientific career choices for women (Kahn and Ginther 2017, Gaule and Piacentini 2018), and gender biases causing misallocation of talent (Santos Silva and Klasen 2021). Top inventors rely on networks, role-models and peer support like all innovators, but the evidence for female top inventors is scant. The peer effects that favour the success of women in achieving the status of star innovator will be investigated across a variety of indicators describing the presence of stars and female inventors among co-inventors and in the network. We will explore the factors that help the rare and valuable development of stars both in “gendered” technology sectors (STEM) and in those in fields with a higher presence of women, such as health care, sustainability and green innovation (Mayer & Rathmann, 2018; Wullum Nielsen & Börjeson, 2019; Puuska, 2010).



ERC sectors

SH3_6 - Diversity and identities, gender, interethnic relations
SH1_11 - Technological change, innovation, research & development

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 5. Raggiungere l’uguaglianza di genere ed emancipare tutte le donne e le ragazze|Obiettivo 9. Costruire un'infrastruttura resiliente e promuovere l'innovazione ed una industrializzazione equa, responsabile e sostenibile


Total cost: € 18,000.00
Total contribution: € 10,000.00
PoliTo total cost: € 18,000.00
PoliTo contribution: € 10,000.00