this one, but Iceland’s history, legal framework and
culture make this possible.
In 2018, the country’s Equal Pay Certification
law took effect, making Iceland the first country in
the world to require companies to prove they pay all
their employees equally, no matter what their gender,
sexuality, or ethnicity.
“Efforts to increase parental leave have marked
further steps towards gender equality,” says
That’s not to say that Iceland is a gender-equal
paradise. While the gender pay gap has closed by 88%,
the gap still exists (although it’s better than a global
gender parity of 68.6%). On the world stage, none of
us will see gender parity in our lifetime—the World
Economic Forum’s index reveals that gender parity
will not be attained for 99.5 years.
Erlingsdóttir adds: “I am proud of the progress we
have made, but I see that there is advancement still to
be made. We can always do more to bridge the gap,
and we will.”
A fundamental human right
It’s no secret that the IP community has traditionally
been male-dominated, says Erlingsdóttir.
But there are signs that things are changing—she cites
the increase in the number of female director generals of
national IP offices, as well as some higher management
positions in the international IP organisations.
There are positive signs in the innovation industry,
with “a new generation of female innovators coming
through with some potentially world-changing
solutions”, she says, adding that high-profile
Icelandic companies are taking measures to increase
the number of women in the boardroom.
”Things could, and should, be moving faster,” she
says. “Gender equality is a fundamental human right
and it goes without saying that we should all be doing
more to address this issue.
“It goes beyond the basic issue of fairness and
whether a person in power is a man or a woman.
Gender equality is also about getting the best results.
It’s simply good business,” she concludes.
Numerous studies espouse the benefits of greater
diversity and gender equality for business innovation
and increased profitability in the private sector. For
Erlingsdóttir, there’s no reason to think that the same
shouldn’t apply to how national and international IP
offices work and do business.
“Increasing diversity and gender equality will equip
us better to find innovative solutions to overcome the
challenges we are facing in a fast-changing IP world.
These efforts just make sense, we cannot afford to
ignore that,” she says.
The ISIPO has always considered gender balance
when it comes to speakers at conferences and
seminars to make sure that a diverse set of voices are
heard on IP issues.
“When it comes to our staff, the ISIPO has generally
had more female employees so we have sometimes
had to think of ways to increase the gender balance
from the other side and hire more men. I believe that
diversity, in terms of both gender and age, is simply
good business,” she says.
She adds that there are many issues today that
require innovative solutions, and that these will not
be found in a homogenous workplace.
This rings true for those working in the science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
“Encouraging women to take on traditionally
male-dominated fields is necessary to break the
barriers that remain,” says Erlingsdóttir, adding that
more women are entering into science and research
and development, particularly in the geothermal
energy sector in Iceland.
Ensuring women’s voices are heard in innovation
and creativity is absolutely vital.
To quote the words of one of Iceland’s most
innovative and creative women, Hildur Guðnadóttir,
who became the first woman to win an Oscar (for best
original score in the film “Joker”): “To the girls, to the
women, to the mothers, to the daughters, who hear
the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need
to hear your voices.”
years until global gender
parity is attained,
according to the World
Economic Forum's Global
Gender Gap Index.
WIPR Influential Women in IP 2020