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Washington University seeks to help female researchers engage in tech transfer


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 20th, 2018

Washington University in St. Louis is developing a blueprint to help technology transfer offices support women inventors in patenting and commercializing their innovations.

In a study published June 18 in Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors, Nichole Mercier, managing director of Washington University’s Office of Technology Management (OTM), looked at the number of invention disclosures and patents filed by the university’s female faculty members before and after the creation of the OTM’s Women in Innovation and Technology program, which supports female participation in tech transfer.

“There is a very real trend in what we have seen since we started this program,” says Mercier. The study found that 27% more women faculty members had interacted with OTM between 2013-16 than in the three previous years, and the number of patents filed on behalf of women faculty increased by nearly 129%.

According to Mercier, women are just as interested in learning about tech commercialization and as likely to re-engage with a TTO once they have secured a first patent. The disparity in how many women actually do patent their technologies arises from factors like exhibiting a different risk profile, having fewer industry connections, and dealing with family responsibilities. “Sometimes, if women don’t have the language of commercialization, they tend not to engage, and, critically, their networks aren’t as robust as their male counterparts,” she comments.

To tackle this, the Women in Innovation and Technology program encourages female researchers to engage in tech transfer, offering education and a network of female peers that are active in commercialization and other individuals who can serve as mentors and facilitators.

“TTOs must critically understand how women participate in technology transfer at their own institution and seek to enhance participation with purposeful direction,” says Mercier. “We are still one of the few universities that has a program dedicated to tracking female engagement,” she adds.

Source: The Source

Editor’s note: Mercier is one of the experts featured in the June Technology Transfer Tactics, which devotes the entire issue to exploring how TTOs can move the needle on increasing commercialization activity among women faculty. See the article above.

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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