• New EUIPO study reveals that only 24% of designers in the EU are women
  • Only 21% of EU-based registered designs had at least one woman designer involved
  • Evidence shows that, on current trends, it would take more than 50 years to
  • close this gender gap
  • On average, women designers earn almost 13% less than men designers
  • The share of women designers in the EU is well below the levels of South Korea,
  • China and the US
  • The Baltic countries have the highest proportion of women designers in the
  • EU; the Netherlands, Hungary and Slovakia, the lowest


Women designers are under-represented in the design profession and in the creation of Registered Community Designs, and they earn less than their male colleagues. These are the main findings of the Women in Design study, published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

The new study, the first of its kind, analyzes the gender gaps in design: the share of women designers in the EU, their salaries, and the participation of women in design registration. Its release coincides with World Intellectual Property Day (26 April), which this year focuses on ‘Women and intellectual property (IP): Accelerating innovation and creativity’.

Only 1 in 4 designers working in the EU in 2021 were women (24%). There are significant differences among the EU Member States, ranging from 17% women designers in the Netherlands, and 18 % in Hungary and Slovakia to 33% in Latvia. This gap is also reflected in a lower participation of women registering designs at the EUIPO.

According to data from the EUIPO’s Registered Community Design (RCD) filings, only 21% of the designs registered by EU-based owners have at least one woman designer listed.

So where do we stand? While the share of women designers and designs created by women in the EU has grown over the last two decades, this growth has been very slow. At the current pace, closing the gap would take 51 years.

Furthermore, some Member States show disparities between the number of women designers and their participation in the RCD system. Spain, Croatia, and Italy have low shares of women in registered designs, while their percentage of women in the design profession is above the EU average.

Meanwhile, some countries outside the EU are doing much better in this regard than EU Member States. South Korea is well above EU levels and nearly half of the designs filed by Korean firms have at least one female designer. China and the US also show a higher share, with around 40% of designs filed with women involved.

In terms of pay, women designers earn on average 12.8% less than their male colleagues. Some of this pay gap may be explained by factors such as age or working conditions (women designers tend to be younger, a higher share of women designers work part-time), but this still leaves an unexplained pay gap of 8%.

The Executive Director of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, stated that “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 Registered Community Design system, we hope to bring attention to the existing gender gap that currently exists in the EU’s field of intellectual property, and to contribute to a more balanced and inclusive design profession. By promoting greater diversity and inclusivity, we can create a more equitable and vibrant IP world.”

According to the study, the type of products most often designed by women are pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, articles of adornment, and textile piece goods. At the other extreme, musical instruments; arms, pyrotechnic articles, articles for hunting, fishing and pest killing; and building units and construction elements are the products least frequently designed by women.

To further mark its commitment to a more gender balanced IP world, the EUIPO currently participates in the Girls Go Circular initiative, as part of its activities related to IP in education (Ideas Powered @ school), under the coordination of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), and the Women and Girls in STEM Forum, organized in close cooperation with the European Commission.


The EUIPO is one of the largest decentralized agencies of the EU, based in Alicante, Spain. Ranked as one of the most innovative intellectual property offices in the world, the EUIPO manages the registration of the European Union trade mark (EUTM) and the registered Community design (RCD), both of which provide intellectual property protection in all EU Member States. It also carries out cooperation activities with the national and regional intellectual property offices of the EU and hosts the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights. Additionally, the EUIPO organises the Design Europa Awards, which will take place in Berlin (Germany) in September 2023.

The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights was established in 2009 to support the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and to help combat the growing threat of intellectual property infringement in Europe. It was transferred to the EUIPO on 5 June 2012 by Regulation (EU) No 386/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council.


Media contact

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Tel.: +34 653 674 113