NEWARK, NJ, March 10, 2022 – Edge’s Dr. Forough Ghahramani, Associate Vice President Research, Innovation, and Sponsored Programs, is one of the co-authors of the Engaging More Women in Academic Innovation paper published in the National Academy of Inventors: Technology & Innovation publication. The report explores the factors that encourage and dissuade women’s participation in technology commercialization and what can be done to drive systemic change.
The lack of inclusiveness in entrepreneurship and invention has become increasingly evident and the need to address and reduce these gender barriers is imperative. According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, of all inventor-patentees in the United States, only 12.8% are women. Ghahramani, along with co-authors, Jane M. Muir RTTP, Megan Aanstoos, Ph.D., Tamsen Barrett, Almesha L. Campbell, Ph.D., Jennifer Gottwald, Kirsten Leute, Nichole Mercier, Ph.D., and Jennifer Shockro, investigated the lack of women in the inventive talent pool and identified several common themes to share with the larger community.
A group of Technology Transfer professionals conducted a survey of academic women involved in innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship to gather their feedback and insight into their experiences. The 50-question survey also collected insight into how respondent’s experiences varied based on their academic position and/or ethnicity and race. Among the key findings, respondents shared that one of the leading drivers for participating in technology commercialization is seeing their research applied in the real world, however finding initial funding for research and development was among their biggest challenges.
One of the key barriers for women’s participation in innovation includes the need for training and mentoring programs on commercialization, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship related topics. If these programs do exist at their institutions, many respondents felt these resources were not well advertised. Respondents also expressed significant interest in having role models, especially female mentors, to help in their innovation journey.
Encouraging greater diversity in STEM education and research initiatives is essential and concrete actions are needed to provide better outreach programs and resources and to create systems that foster greater inclusion in academic innovation. This paper outlines the key findings from the quantitative and qualitative data obtained from 168 women involved in academic innovation. It also puts forth a set of recommendations based on the survey feedback, follow-up interviews, and the collective experience of Technology Transfer professionals who work daily with academic innovators. It is the hope of the authors that these recommendations will provide valuable insights into concrete actions that can be taken to ensure systemic changes that foster greater engagement of academic women and other under-represented populations in all stages of the innovation lifecycle. In addition to helping to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of training programs and establishing a virtual national mentoring network, the group also looks to engage with the Policy Makers, the Technology Transfer community, and other synergistic organizations interested in refining and implementing the recommendations set forth in this report. You can download the Engaging More Women in Academic Innovation article to review all the survey’s findings and the report’s recommendations for encouraging more diversity within the technology and innovation ecosystem.