facebook linkedin twitter

Creating Innovation Incentives for Women and Minorities

April 22, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — As COVID-19 puts pressure on industries to innovate for solutions, a Senate subcommittee is looking at why women and minorities are left behind in the search for new technologies.

The ultimate goal of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property is to add patents to the economic engine that technology creates.

The method they explored during a hearing Wednesday was creating incentives for more women and minorities to participate in developing inventions.

Lawmakers were motivated partly by recent studies that show a wide gap in the number of U.S. patents issued to women and minorities compared with White men.

Patents are property titles that give the owners a legal right to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention for a limited period of years while they try to market them. The owners range from individuals to large research institutions and corporations.

Well-conceived patents can be a road to great business success for good entrepreneurs.

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office report last year showed that women earn only 12.8% of patents.

The disparity is even greater for African Americans and Latinos.

A 2016 Information Technology & Innovation Foundation study that characterized patent holders said, “Looking at the entire sample, White innovators accounted for 75.6% of the sample. Individuals of Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity made up the second largest group at 18.7%. Of the remainder, 3.3% were Hispanic; 0.4% Black or African American.”

At the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, “We have to find ways to improve diversity in the patent system.”

Previous congressional efforts to make patents more accessible have included lowering U.S. Patent and Trademark Office fees for small businesses and independent inventors.

In addition, the Patent and Trademark Office has opened satellite offices nationwide to reach potential inventors who might otherwise be overlooked.

More patents from women and minorities are “a great way to boost economic output in our country,” said Leahy, who chairs the subcommittee.

He co-sponsored a pending bill that directs the Patent and Trademark Office to collect demographic data on inventors. It is supposed to help the office direct more outreach toward women and minorities.

The bill, called the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act, was introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

Women and minority inventors are “underrepresented and the American economy suffers as a result,” Tillis said.

Georgia Grace Edwards, co-founder of a company that makes outdoor pants for women called SheFly, said some women and minorities feel excluded when they see so few inventors like themselves in the technology industry.

As a result, they do not make the effort or raise the money they need for their ideas to succeed, she said.

“In fact, I didn’t talk about patenting to anyone who wasn’t a wealthy, middle-aged White male in the field of engineering or tech,” she said. 

She added, “This is the extremely challenging cycle of interconnected barriers that have kept women, people of color, young people and people living in rural areas with lower socioeconomic statuses from fully participating in U.S. entrepreneurship.”

Angela Grayson, an attorney representing the American Intellectual Property Law Association, told lawmakers that social barriers have kept women and persons of color out of technology.

“Data show that diverse teams achieve better results,” she said. “Yet, women, socially disadvantaged individuals and economically disadvantaged individuals comprise a small fraction of innovators who apply for and obtain patents. This suggests that their innovative potential is underutilized or not acknowledged.”

The Senate’s review of equal opportunity for invention coincides with a Patent and Trademark Office effort to prioritize innovations that could help in the U.S. response to the pandemic.

The “COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program” speeds up the process to obtain COVID-19 related patents from the average of 13 months to about six months.

Technology

November 29, 2021
by Dan McCue
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Stepping Down

SAN FRANCISCO — Jack Dorsey is stepping aside as the head and CEO of Twitter, believing the social media giant... Read More

SAN FRANCISCO — Jack Dorsey is stepping aside as the head and CEO of Twitter, believing the social media giant “Is ready to move on from its founders.” Dorsey has faced pressure for months over his decision to serve as CEO for both Twitter and Square,... Read More

November 23, 2021
by Dan McCue
Pixstory Striving to Address the Need for User Safety On Social Media

WASHINGTON - Social media, once a venue for pet pictures and catching up with friends from high school, has turned... Read More

WASHINGTON - Social media, once a venue for pet pictures and catching up with friends from high school, has turned toxic in many cases. And it’s almost impossible to escape the most divisive of political commentary. Among those trying to address the issue is Appu Esthose... Read More

November 22, 2021
by Kate Michael
Experts Say XR Tech Is More Than Gaming and Entertainment

WASHINGTON — The lines just keep blurring between the physical and online worlds, with the pandemic accelerating the adoption of... Read More

WASHINGTON — The lines just keep blurring between the physical and online worlds, with the pandemic accelerating the adoption of immersive technologies that merge the physical world with digital or simulated reality. But while many are familiar with some type of extended reality, which is a... Read More

November 22, 2021
by Kate Michael
Klobuchar Weighs in on CAP’s New Report on Tech Regulation

WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has been on a crusade for swift and sweeping reform of Big Tech platforms,... Read More

WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has been on a crusade for swift and sweeping reform of Big Tech platforms, introducing a number of bills and even publishing a book titled “Antitrust” that looks at the history of policy toward trusts and monopolies and details how... Read More

November 17, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
FDA Issues New Guidance For Use Of AI In Health Care

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently partnered with Health Canada and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products... Read More

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently partnered with Health Canada and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to issue guiding principles to align efforts and standards for artificial intelligence and machine learning medical device development in health care.  “The FDA believes... Read More

November 17, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Officials Say Automation Won’t Replace Humans

WASHINGTON — Automation will not replace people nor take their jobs, according to two government officials who are implementing robotic... Read More

WASHINGTON — Automation will not replace people nor take their jobs, according to two government officials who are implementing robotic process automation programs at federal agencies.  In fact, automation will allow federal employees to accomplish more than that they could have otherwise, said Gabrielle Perret, director... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top