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Technology Transfer: Fueling America's Innovation Pipeline

Studies show that if schoolchildren are asked to draw a picture of a scientist, they generally illustrate a white man in a lab coat with crazy hair. There are strong grounds for suspecting that if you asked adults to draw a picture of an inventor, they would draw the same thing. Just as taking children to a lab and exposing them to real scientists of a variety of genders and ethnic backgrounds leads them to draw a diversity of people in lab coats when the experiment is repeated, we aim to broaden the idea of what a typical inventor is as well. Women comprise half of the U.S. labor force, a quarter of the STEM workforce, but hold less than 10% of the patents in this country. AWIS has developed a new initiative, a symposium series designed to bring thoughtful dialogue to and highlight areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professions where women are continually underrepresented. Our first topic was technology transfer at academic institutions..

Event Summary

AWIS, operating at the nexus of science and gender, seeks to identify reasons why women patent at a lower rate and identify ways to increase the number of women in tech transfer initiatives to help women fulfill their intellectual potential and so help sustain American economic competitiveness. To do this we interviewed tech managers, past Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) presidents, innovation experts, women entrepreneurs, innovation outreach program coordinators, policy experts, and patent attorneys. We concluded with a policy symposium of leaders representing a variety of stakeholder groups to generate a meaningful, result-oriented dialogue, pulling together an audience slightly outside the typical cross section of stakeholders in this space.

The Event Highlights

Speakers & Presentations

Our panelists represent a range of backgrounds and each bring a unique perspective to the question of how to most effectively engage all the potential talent to capitalize on the innovative potential of the academic workforce.

Our Esteemed Panel and Individual Presentations

Capitalizing On the Entire Potential Innovative Capacity of Academia: Recommendations for Universities and Technology Transfer Offices

Recommendations include increasing the entrepreneurship training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, providing implicit bias training for technology transfer officers, increasing outreach to areas more heavily dominated by women such as the humanities and nursing, tracking the gender of individuals disclosing technologies and earning patents and comparing ratios to make sure unconscious discrimination is not occurring, adopting policies that enable faculty to engage in entrepreneurial activities without penalizing their tenure success, encouraging those whose disclosures or patent applications were rejected to reapply in the future including implementing follow up procedures, and looking to model change upon other programs that have been successful in reaching out to women.

Journal Article

Resources and Supplemental Reading on Technology Transfer

Material to dig deeper into the issues.

Background Material

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