Women, Jews, and Foreigners. A Data Analysis of Minority Inventorship in Nazi Germany

Lilla salen Session 5: Leading Change: Female Pioneers in Patenting and Inventing organized by Youssouf Merouani


Sophia Rishyna


When one thinks of the economic and social circumstances faced by women, Jews, and foreign nationals in the Third Reich, very different challenges spring to mind. Through examining the patenting behavior of these minority groups in comparison with the average German inventor, this research will contribute to the literature on patents as a measure for innovation. Furthermore, an examination of archival material will show whether Nazi Germany’s legislation or the administrative practice made it legal to discriminate against minorities. The analyzed patent data stems from a newly built database, which allows to differentiate between inventors and patent holders, and offers information on gender, nationality, and, in the case of some inventors, their (perceived) Jewishness. So far, the results indicate that there is no discrimination towards foreign inventors or companies wishing to patent in Germany, even if they are citizens of the Third Reich’s opponents in the Second World War. Female inventors are found to be more likely to co-invent, both as independent inventors, as well as with patents where a company is the patent holder. The patenting behavior of Jewish inventors has proven as the most challenging to investigate because the inventor’s name could legally be omitted in the application.


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