Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Narrowing the innovation and entrepreneurship gender gap and nailing down the numbers at MUSC

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: March 29th, 2023

A detailed article on the Medical University of South Carolina’s STEM-CREW program, and its efforts to measure and address the gender gap in innovation and entrepreneurship, appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

Recent U.S. data show that there are only 13 females for every 87 male patent holders, women comprised fewer than one-third of NIH grantees, and women-founded business receive a meager 3% to 8% of venture capital funding.

STEM-Coaching and Resources for Entrepreneurial Women (CREW), a new initiative at the Medical University of South Carolina, hopes to address the gender gap with a unique program designed to increase the number of women entrepreneurs at MUSC and other universities. The program will also incorporate intensive data gathering and assessment tools to gauge its impact as well as to improve results on an ongoing basis.

About a third of MUSC’s 800-plus inventors are women, which generally reflects the lower number of female faculty. However, a much smaller percentage of women are listed as lead inventors on disclosures, and only one of MUSC’s start-ups has a female co-founder.

To address the disparity at MUSC and beyond, Carol Feghali-Bostwick, PhD, applied for a National Institutes of Health National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant so that they could “do it right,” she says. Feghali-Bostwick received $2.4 million in funding for the STEM-CREW program, which she now leads as program director and principal investigator and also serves as director of MUSC’s Advancement, Recruitment, and Retention of Women (ARROW) program.

Goals for the STEM-CREW program include:

1) to increase the number of women who become serial inventors and successful entrepreneurs;

2) to establish a more robust entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region, including a community of successful women entrepreneurs; and

3) to train future coaches and mentors.

The long-term, overarching goal is to promote economic growth and prosperity for the region by unleashing more potential among female innovators.

“Most of us, whether you attend medical or graduate school, don’t get entrepreneurship training,” says Feghali Bostwick. “So, for many women, entrepreneurship is a black box. Our program takes the mystery out of it and teaches easy-to-follow steps entrepreneurs need to take. This transparency would make it more appealing for many women to go forward with it.”

The College of Charleston is a partner in the program under the leadership of Angela Passarelli, PhD, who serves as the coaching director of STEM-CREW. She notes that the gender gap is apparent at all stages of technology transfer at several SC institutions, from filing invention disclosures to founding start-up companies.

There are 20 participants from the partner institutions each year. Eventually, the program will expand to admit out-of-state participants from Institutional Development Awards (IDEA) states.

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