A recent article in Technology and Innovation by BME’s Dr. Fran Ligler and former NC State Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Kelly Sexton highlights the gender gap in technology commercialization in the academic community. According to the study, women inventors only accounted for 18.8% of all patents issued in 2010. Even more troubling, only 5% of utility patents issued to NC State between 2015 and 2016 listed a female faculty member as inventor. The article provides potential explanations for this troubling gap and posits potential remedies for the same. In order to fully address the problem, the authors suggest that Offices of Technology Transfer and Commercialization (OTT) take the following actions: disseminate their own university’s gender gap data; reach out to faculty to ensure that all inventions with commercial potential are identified; and educate faculty inventors about the commercialization process. Finally, Drs. Ligler and Sexton suggest that universities emphasize to their faculty the positive societal impact their inventions can have if commercialized and so be made available to the general public. Potential benefit to the human condition seems to motivate faculty more than financial gain and acclaim.
Closing the gender gap in technology commercialization
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