Equal Measures Archive
Making Shifts that Stick – Driving Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
, V2, Issue #23
November 4, 2020
By Kirsten Leute
Partner, University Relations
Osage University Partners
I spent almost 20 years in technology transfer at academic institutions before making the leap over to the VC world. During such a long period in one industry, you see trends build – a switch in mindsets, in processes and management on corporate sponsorships, in attitude and policy changes on start-up companies, and in the job itself becoming a profession rather than a question – “I’d really like to get into tech transfer” instead of “What is it you do again?"
Another of those shifts is happening on inclusion. Gender is one point to look at across the innovation inclusion landscape, and one that it is generally easier to produce data on, especially for data sets that do not already have gender identification noted, through the use of software tools that analyze names. While certainly not foolproof, they can help with analyses. In a brief recent survey that Bryn Rees (UColorado Boulder) and I conducted of tech transfer offices, just over half of respondents were tracking the gender of their start-up founders, but only approximately 30% were tracking the racial/ethnic identity of founders. While our sample size was small (23 institutions), no doubt there is room for improvement on data collection on who is being included in the innovation path.
These days, I work at the intersection of university start-ups and venture capital. Our fund has examined the prevalence of women academics in start-ups
, but so far has not done a study on other areas of diversity – e.g., racial or LGBTQ. From anecdotal evidence, I do not expect the outcome to be any rosier than that of our gender study. There is still much work to be done to approach parity. Fortunately, movement is being made. Companies and their investors are gathering data, examining themselves, implementing metrics and changing practices. Rather than being a flash-in-the-pan effort, many are building long-term programs where accountability matters and sharing efforts amongst their peer organizations. AUTM’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee and Women Inventors SIG are great examples of both program building and trading of practices.
I’m sure we all have resources, data, ideas and programs we can share and learn from. In my own research, I especially appreciated this column
“Eight Ways to Make Your D&I Efforts Less Talk and More Walk,” with commentary by Audrey Blanche, the Global Head of Diversity & Belonging at Atlassian. What is something that you have found both inspirational and aspirational? Let’s start sharing more. AUTM Twitter
and AUTM LinkedIn
@KirstenLeute and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstenleute/
Perspectives on Diversity in Academic Tech Transfer
, V2, Issue #21
October 7, 2020
By Almesha L. Campbell, PhD
Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development
Jackson State University
Member, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
Taunya A. Phillips
Senior Associate Director, New Ventures & Alliances
Office of Technology Commercialization
University of Kentucky
Member, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
In recognition of Hispanic Awareness Month in the United States, AUTM’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee interviewed David L. Gulley, PhD, CLP, RTTP, and Carlos A. Báez, PhD of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, which encourages and promotes innovation, transfer and commercialization of technology and job creation in Puerto Rico’s technology sector.
Let’s discuss the terminology, Hispanic vs Latin-X. Which is appropriate?
I am neither Latino or Hispanic. But I have lived in Latin America and spent much of my career working in Hispanic Serving Institutions (HIS). For me, the question is about a linguistic derivation or a cultural derivation. Outside of the US, no one says Hispanic. I believe that in the US, the term identifies categories of people.
In Puerto Rico, we do not use the term Hispanic or Latino. We are Puerto Ricans. However, when I lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, we considered ourselves a Hispanic community.
Do you measure or track race/ethnicity?
Under Title V designation, a HSI is a non-profit higher education institution at which 25% or more of its student population identify as Hispanic or Latino. So yes, race/ethnicity is tracked.
Are there any specific programs that increase engagement of historically underrepresented populations?
Yes. There are a number of research programs geared towards increasing the engagement of underrepresented minorities at HSIs and other minority serving institutions. I participated in the NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate program, which seeks to improve pathways to the professoriate and success of underrepresented minorities.
What challenges have come up when working with inventors?
There is a need for more inventors from underrepresented populations going through the entire process of tech transfer to serve as role models. In Puerto Rico, we have a lot of good research, but not much is being protected and transferred. This activity just began to increase through the Trust, but it will take a long time to change the culture.
From a practical standpoint in Puerto Rico, the teaching load is higher and the overall pay scale is below average compared to similar US universities.
Are there any trends in the types of inventions being disclosed, or any connection to the specific needs of the locality?
The technologies developed are healthcare related. A lot of the research here focuses on health disparities, such as the early onset of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
How can we help to increase the diversity in tech transfer?
Training up-and-coming graduate students can help ensure diversity in the profession. Finding ways to support those who are interested and provide them with opportunities to grow and learn. Target senior individuals who have navigated and overcome obstacles and risen in stature and professionalism to provide leadership mentoring.
What can AUTM do to celebrate/highlight Hispanic Heritage Month?
Currently, there are 292 four-year, HSI institutions in the US. AUTM could report on outstanding HSI research faculty, intellectual property portfolios, inventors and inventions.
AUTM Needs Diversity on Its Board
, V2, Issue #18
August 26, 2020
By Gayatri Varma, PhD
Member, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
At first glance, many may think the AUTM Board of Directors appears diverse. While there is and has always been tremendous traditional gender diversity (the Board is generally split equally between men and women), there is little representation among minorities, LGBTQIA+, those with disabilities or one of the many other characteristics that define our Membership.
I served three years on the AUTM Board. The connections and experiences have enriched my professional career. As you may know, AUTM has a Strategic Board, which forces you to view things from a 30,000-foot level, enabling a view of the profession like none other. I believe every AUTM Member should have this privilege.
Prior to my election to the Board of Directors, I served as a volunteer in many capacities for the Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee, including as a Cabinet member. Both our Membership and our Committees have a lot of diversity – minorities, those from different countries, people at different career levels. But this diversity has not reached the Board level.
Immediately following the announcement of the 2019 AUTM Board election results, a Member reached out to me with an astute observation - the absence of racial diversity on the new Board. This has stuck with me. Who can fix this? We the Membership.
The AUTM Board is not appointed. The Board made a significant adjustment in 2015 and 2016 in how members were chosen to run for open Board positions. We used to have a Leadership Development Committee that would hand-select leaders across the world and encourage them to run. In 2016, the Board decided to put the power in your hands. The Board is now 100% elected
by the Membership. If we desire a Board that reflects us, it is imperative that we encourage and support a diverse group of candidates. If we, as minority group members, feel we need representation, then it is upon each of us to consider running as a candidate for the Board in the upcoming elections.
AUTM’s newly established Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee champions this cause, amongst others. Its goal, as reflected in our Diversity and Inclusion statement
, is to “increase the diversity of the organization.” I am asking each of you to step up and engage with the organization at all levels. Encourage and support those who will bring a diverse thought process to the organization. Consider running when it is time to elect the next round of Board members. Your thoughts and contributions add to the richness that makes our Association great. AUTM needs you, now more than ever.
If you are interested in learning more or potentially running for the Board, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Gayatri Varma is Director, Transactions, within the Business Development and Licensing Team, Biopharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca. She served three years on AUTM’s Board of Directors.
We Want You to Run for the Board
, V2, Issue #18
August 26, 2020
By Laura Savatski, MBA, CLP, RTTP
AUTM Board Chair-Elect
When I first considered running for the Board I found myself asking a LOT of questions, particularly about the benefits of being a Board Member, and the process. You might be, too. Then there were the strategic questions I asked myself, “How can I bring value?” and, “Is the job doable?”
The AUTM Board sets strategic direction and goals for the Association, while ensuring the right mix of resources and human capital to get it done. A Board like ours, made up of Association Members, also acts as an initial sounding board on issues impacting individual Members. That’s why it’s key that our Board be representative of the membership.
I thought initially that because I am in a small office, I would not have much of a shot. In fact, I wasn’t elected on my first try. I ran again with success with some effort campaigning and discussions with colleagues about the importance of a vibrant Association.
Small offices are, in reality, a vital part of our Membership base, so it’s important that this perspective is represented on the Board. AUTM has been incredibly valuable to me in providing education and peers to help me deliver a quality program “at home.” AUTM gives me the large team of collaborators that I don’t otherwise have inside my office. And it’s a two-way street. My diverse background and ability to look at issues through many different lenses also serves AUTM. My exposure to AUTM’s 21st
century vision of tech transfer serves my employer – making being a Board member a win-win.
If you’re a person who likes to consider those big ideas, and work through them with like-minded professionals, then you too may find a seat on the AUTM Board fun and rewarding. Working as an AUTM volunteer on specific projects or committees is also a great way to contribute and prepare.
So what are the basic expectations? Board members work independently, reading AUTM staff-prepared documents and gathering data and feedback from our institutions and Association members to prepare for Board meetings. It’s together as a Board that we make decisions to guide the work of the Association staff and volunteers. In addition to meeting (pre-COVID-19) in person three to four times a year, the Board also meets by video as needed.
Our board is strategic in nature, reviewing AUTM's finances, new initiatives, and ensuring quality. Some Board members, like me as the incoming chair, perform a “listen and support” role for strategic committees, like our Equity Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) group. One of our first goals for this group, formed last year, is to diversify the pool of candidates running for Board this year and beyond.
Ideally, AUTM’s Board, like all boards, should be a reflection of its Membership. If you think AUTM’s Board would be a good fit for you, please consider throwing your hat in the ring.
The first step is to declare your intention to run by submitting your application. These will be made available on AUTM’s website in mid-September, so watch your inboxes for the announcement. After the application deadline, elections are open for a two-week period.
Good luck! And if you want some advice, feel free to reach out!
Laura Savatski is the Technology Transfer Officer for the non-profit organization Versiti | Blood Research Institute. In this role, she is responsible for technology protection, commercialization, and partnership development. Laura has a diverse background as a research scientist, entrepreneur, and start-up advisor, and broad experience bringing inventions to market. Laura’s early career in medical research focused on vaccine trials, molecular virology, stem cell biology, transplant/oncology, and cellular assays. Her past roles include Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Prodesse, a company she co-founded, which make molecular infectious disease diagnostic products and is now part of Hologic. Laura currently serves as the AUTM Board representative for the Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP). She is the Incoming AUTM Board Chair for 2021-2022.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Celebrates 30th Anniversary
, V2, Issue #16
July 29, 2020
By Megan Aanstoos, PhD
Chair, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
People with disabilities may encounter life's myriad of technologies in ways different than people without these challenges. Doorknobs, buttons, curbs and digital meetings can all present hurdles for persons with disabilities.
As the number of Americans at risk for disabilities continues to grow, designing technologies for an accessible tomorrow has become a national priority. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, the world of assistive technologies has changed significantly. These inventions often begin in research institutions where students and faculty take a fresh look at the challenges surrounding everyday tasks, sparking new ideas which are then developed and licensed through technology transfer offices.
The Importance of Taking Active Roles in Diversifying Start-Up Founders
No person with a disability should be denied the opportunity to engage in life. By creating and licensing assistive technologies, universities are doing their part to provide transformational innovations for those in need:
, V2, Issue #15
July 15, 2020
By Nichole R. Mercier, PhD
Assistant Vice Chancellor and Managing Director, Office of Technology Management, Washington University in St. Louis
There is a huge need to support women, African Americans, and other underrepresented populations in small businesses, particularly those that spin out of universities. The statistics that highlight participation in tech transfer and entrepreneurship show the obvious need to create opportunities that actively invite women to the table, support their efforts throughout, and carefully help navigate the common barriers on the road to entrepreneurship. We know women are 40% less likely to communicate their ideas to the tech transfer office and that they only make up 12% of the inventor population. Professor Lisa Cook’s research at Michigan State University indicates the dire outlook for African Americans who historically received almost seven fold fewer patents than women.
However, the real metric of technology transfer is the successful placement of a technology with an industry partner or start-up company. Universities rely heavily on spinning out small businesses/start-ups as a critical path to technology transfer. Yet, few have evaluated the level of involvement of underrepresented founders in university spinouts. A review by Osage University Partners of their university-driven portfolio found that only 11% of spinouts had a female founder. At my university, Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), only about 3-4% of our university start-ups have a female founder and we have only two start-ups that have non-women underrepresented founders. While there generally are not statistics around minority founders for university start-ups, we know that black founders received less than 1% of venture capital funding. Clearly, there is work to be done.
Increasingly universities are educating their female inventor population on technology transfer and entrepreneurship, and these developed programs lend themselves to other underrepresented populations. Innovator education that is specifically focused on diversity and inclusion has been shown to increase representation and participation of women and minorities in invention disclosures and patenting.
But as I’ve learned at WashU, founding a start-up takes an additional commitment, which has added barriers for underrepresented populations. I believe that to evoke real change, a national endeavor is necessary. Recently, WashU partnered with Osage University Partners to deliver Equalize, the first national pitch event for women academic entrepreneurs. The goal was to empower women across the country toward entrepreneurship by growing their networks through mentorship and publicity. Each participant was paired for six months with a hand selected mentor who truly understood the barriers women face engaging in entrepreneurship. The pairs formed trusted bonds, mentors selflessly opened their networks, and each team member put in more hours than was expected. Equalize was a game changer for the participants who described working with their first female mentor, engaging with someone who could challenge them to a higher business capacity, or feeling star struck by the incredible background (yet totally down to earth nature) of their “rock star” mentor.
By all accounts, Equalize was a success that can be replicated for other populations who experience the obstacles when considering a university spinout. We need to rally together as a nation of tech transfer professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, other start-up personnel and underrepresented academic inventors to navigate these obstacles. We need to look across the country for role models that represent these populations and look to create more by deliberately offering minority populations and women entrepreneurial opportunities and providing introductions that expand their networks. Only in this way will we consciously build a community where all populations are invited and supported to participate equitably in entrepreneurship.
When we began efforts for women in 2014 at WashU, we brought in female founders from other parts of the country to engage with WashU’s female researchers. Now we have our own population, which continues to be cultivated for growth. With fewer minorities in faculty positions across the country, spurring entrepreneurship will take a national effort, but we have already demonstrated that it is possible, and suspect it will spur more entrepreneurship and spinouts from university minority founders.
The views expressed are the author's and do not necessarily represent the views of AUTM.
Innovation for All: Building a Diverse and Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #13
June 17, 2020
By Tanaga Boozer
Education Program Advisor, US Patent and Trademark Office
Member, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
Last year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) conducted a study of women inventors and found that the inventor rate for women was a mere 12% in 2016. Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation makes a compelling case for changing the paradigm so that minorities, women and other underrepresented groups have better odds of becoming inventors. In a statement to the United States House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Committee on the Judiciary, USPTO Director Andei Iancu noted that “Broadening the innovation ecosphere to include women – and other underrepresented groups – is critical to inspiring novel inventions, driving economic growth, and maintaining America’s global competitiveness.”
Congress passed the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science (SUCCESS) Act directing the USPTO to study and address the issues preventing certain underrepresented groups from applying for and obtaining patents. In the SUCCESS Act Report to Congress, the USPTO published its findings, identified ways to enhance its existing programs and made legislative recommendations to move underrepresented groups closer to achieving patent parity.
AUTM’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee recently interviewed Laura Peter, Deputy Director of the USPTO, to better understand the initiatives the USPTO has taken up to influence the diversity of invention among underrepresented groups since publishing the SUCCESS Act Report. They asked her to address the creation and implementation of the Expanding Innovation Hub (“The Hub”) website, and other USPTO initiatives to increase minority inventorship and improve tracking metrics for accountability.
How do you envision individuals and institutions engaging with the hub?
The Expanding Innovation Hub is designed to be a one-stop shop for inventors to learn about how to protect their inventions using USPTO resources, and for organizations to learn about programs the USPTO, itself, has successfully deployed to increase participation of under-represented members within its ranks. On the Hub, there are materials to help inventors learn how to navigate through the process, as well as resources to help organizations establish their own mentoring and community group programs to foster expansion to those under-represented in the innovation communities, including women.
What is the Hub designed to do?
The essence of the Hub is to provide resources for inventors and organizations which will help accelerate participation of under-represented communities in the patent system. It is part of the USPTO’s multi-pronged approach to expand the innovation ecosphere by providing resources, education, encouragement, and other forms of outreach.
How will this Hub impact the diversity of inventors?
With the new Expanding Innovation Hub on our website, inventors will have a central location to find information about all of our programs and resources. In addition to providing resources to inventors, we also provide resources to organizations to assist them in expanding their own innovation ecosphere. As identified in our SUCCESS Act report, one of the barriers facing under-represented groups is a lack of access to mentoring. By providing toolkits to assist organizations in establishing their own mentoring programs and community groups, we endeavor to provide more opportunities for individuals to find mentors and role models. As stated by Susann Keohane, an IBM Master Inventor, in one of our Journeys of Innovation articles, “If you’re able to find someone that can mentor you in patenting and innovation, that will really jump-start your success.”
While not part of the Hub, we also continue to expand our reach geographically. In addition to our headquarters in Alexandria, we have four regional offices in Detroit, Denver, San Jose, and Dallas, and 83 Patent and Trademark Resource Centers located in public, state, and academic libraries across the country. These centers not only offer a physical connection to valuable government resources, but they also offer regular programming, office hours, and staff trained to assist inventors and entrepreneurs with intellectual property (IP) research.
How will you measure that impact?
Making progress on the participation of under-represented groups in innovation is a task that will take time. Even with time, it will be hard to measure the exact impact of the Hub since other groups have made their own efforts. One indicator of success would be the results of any future studies showing increase in inventor participation rates of underrepresented groups.
Will this have a real person behind it answering questions and engaging with individuals/groups?
Within the Demystifying the Patent System section of the Hub, there is a link to request a USPTO speaker. Any groups interested in a presentation should fill out a speaker request form, and someone from the USPTO will contact them. In addition, we will continue to host and participate in events, such as the Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, where representatives from the USPTO answer questions and engage with the community.
Will information be uploaded in real-time or is this a static site?
The Hub is not static. The Hub will continually be updated with new materials. In the future, we plan to add additional information and new formats for accessing information.
Can you clarify the components of the hub and how it aligns with the SUCCESS Act?
In response to the SUCCESS Act, we released the SUCCESS Act Report. Within the report, we outlined several USPTO initiatives to increase participation in innovation. One of the initiatives we identified is to create a collaborative IP program to help demystify the patent process and encourage greater participation. The Demystifying the Patent System Toolkit, on the Expanding Innovation Hub, was designed to address this initiative. It was created to help innovators understand the process of obtaining a patent.
Within the SUCCESS Act report, we also identified barriers that under-represented groups may face. One of these barriers is a lack of mentors and role models. The Mentoring Toolkit and Community Group Resources were designed to help overcome that barrier. The Mentoring Toolkit is intended to assist organizations in establishing a mentoring program to connect experienced innovators with the next generation; and the Community Group Resources was designed to help organizations establish programs to connect groups of employees with shared characteristics, interests, and goals for encouragement and inspiration in the pursuit of innovation.
The new platform is yet another step the USPTO has taken to broaden the innovationecosphere, to inspire novel inventions, to accelerate growth, and to drive America’s global competitive edge.
How will the Hub help to point inventors towards other tools, such as the pro bono program?
While the materials on the Hub are geared to all innovators, the USPTO offers robust programs for individual inventors. The Demystifying the Patent System portion of the Expanding Innovation Hub provides a consolidated, curated list of resources to help individual inventors engage in the patent process. The USPTO offers access to legal counsel through its pro bono network, and 60 participating law school clinics, to help inventors and entrepreneurs secure free or discounted legal services. We have a pro se assistance program to help inventors who are not represented by counsel apply for patents. We provide a host of other online resources to help guide and educate inventors, as well.
Is this Hub about doing something or just offering information on how USPTO has tackled diversity of inventors?
The Hub is providing information to help individual inventors understand the patent process and organizations increase participation in innovation. In the SUCCESS Act Report, we identified several barriers facing under-represented groups. The information we have provided in the Hub can help tackle some of these barriers. We hope that the Hub will encourage more participation by demystifying the patent system, and make it easier for organizations to ensure everyone has an opportunity for networking and mentoring.
America’s economic prosperity and technological leadership depend on a strong and inclusive innovation ecosystem. That is why it is so important to make sure all Americans have the opportunity to develop and protect their inventions, build thriving businesses, and succeed. It is therefore critical that industry, academia, and government work together to broaden our innovation ecosphere demographically, geographically, and economically. The Expanding Innovation Hub is designed to be a springboard for inventors and organizations, as well as to inspire the continued conversation about growing the numbers of women and other underrepresented people in the innovation economy.
Are there more components coming to the Hub in the future, such as interactive programming, webinars, symposiums, conferences, etc.?
We plan to add more components to the Hub, including content targeted towards different groups of individuals, such as corporations. Additionally, as we announce future initiatives directed towards expanding innovation, they will be added to the Hub. For example, the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP), which became effective on May 15, has been added as a feature on the Hub. Finally, we host a wide variety of events to amplify this message, such as Invention-Con and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium which will all be featured on the Hub.
Outside of the Hub, the USPTO also supports dozens of STEM-related programs that provide education about IP to young men and women. These include programs in partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, such as Camp Invention, which is offered in school districts in every state, and the Collegiate Inventors Competition, which takes place each year at the USPTO; the National Summer Teacher Institute, which brings invention and IP into the nation’s classrooms; collaborations with historically black colleges and universities; the Girl Scout IP patch, which is available to Girl Scout troops across the nation; and so much more.
Is there a place on the Hub to highlight and celebrate successful organizations?
In the future we hope to recognize individuals and organizations that have made progress in accelerating diversity among innovators and entrepreneurs.
Employee Inclusivity In a Virtual World
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #11
May 20, 2020
By Megan Aanstoos, PhD
Chair, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
In addition to concerns over budget, research laboratory closures and moving institutional services online, employers also must keep inclusion practices in mind during today’s “new normal.” Over the last two months, many of us have had to make drastic changes to our working styles. We have relocated offices to our homes (or those of family), alongside our partners, children and pets so that we can continue to work and protect our society. However, that move has been easier for some than others. While members of the EDI committee contemplate what has and hasn’t worked, we thought we’d share some thoughts on expansion of inclusion and equity for future planning.
First, it is important to recognize that not everyone has the same level of access. Socioeconomic diversity means that someone may not have steady internet, a quiet, safe place to work, or the ability to balance childcare with full-time job responsibilities. Flexibility in scheduling and availability can help alleviate stress and provide a more meaningful and productive work experience. Training and advanced conversations to prepare staff can be helpful as well.
Second, even with steady internet, a reliable computer and a place to work, inclusivity means also providing accessibility accommodations that may not have been needed within the office. This can include things like captioning for calls, establishing video use for virtual meetings, screen readers and allowing employees to take home monitors, standing desks and other office equipment.
Third, there are ways to help support employee mental health as well as provide physical accommodations. This can include daily team check-in meetings, happy hour events, team building exercises, webinars and even arts & craft projects, like painting Mandala power words on stones to keep at a home desk. (Images provided by AUTM Chair-Elect, Laura Savatski)
Fourth, employers need to build flexibility into their plans for bringing employees back to their offices. Employees might have children who are still at home, be immunocompromised or even be located out of state. Partners at home may be at risk from public facing occupations in healthcare, retail services or others. To help keep everyone safe, employers need to be aware of individual needs and be adaptive and inclusive in developing return-to-workplace plans.
As employers adjust workflow and duties to this “new normal,” it is essential to include inclusivity and equality considerations and be thoughtful of individual needs when exploring new ways of operating.
Drive EDI by Partnering with MSIs in Your Area
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #9
April 22, 2020
By Cedric D’Hue, D’Hue Law
AUTM’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee has been tasked with creating a plan on how to work with third parties to improve technology transfer outcomes at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in the US, and identifying funding mechanisms to assist. The Outreach and Education (O&E) subgroup, co-chaired by myself and Taunya Phillips, Senior Director of New Ventures at The University of Kentucky, has met to review and discuss information on developing strategic partnerships.
We began with a review of recent articles, including HBCU’s Sink-or-Swim Moment from the October 21, 2019 New York Times, and then began our outreach to underrepresented institutions. We spoke with a current and a former director of an HBCU technology transfer office, the Vice-President of Development at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Senior Director of STEM Programs and Initiatives at the United Negro College Fund for their takes on effective programs. We also spoke with the Patent Training Foundation about its program to provide opportunities for HBCU law students to participate as teams with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
O&E will continue its efforts to support AUTM in strengthening strategic partnerships with HBCUs and other MSI’s, government entities and industry associations such as University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE), Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) and National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM). The underrepresentation of women, people of color and other groups in industries such as Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has been documented by numerous organizations. NASEM recently published an important study, Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine and hosted a Symposium on Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in STEMM. Both confirmed the effectiveness of an intentional, evidence-based approach for improving the landscape of STEMM (STEM plus Medicine), and the research outlines educational interventions for improving recruitment and retention, effective practices for addressing gender disparities and other underrepresented groups, and overcoming barriers to implementation. IPO is scheduled to release a new guide to Diversity and Inclusion to the legal profession.
While the EDI Committee is limited to a small number of participants, the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Women Inventors, and the recently created SIG for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) offers many opportunities for participation by interested AUTM Members. The purpose of D&I SIG is twofold: (1) to support the achievement of a workforce composed of people who proportionally represent the diverse populations that contribute to technology transfer around the world, and (2) to create an environment in which all AUTM Members feel valued, included, and empowered to work toward the advancement of technology transfer. Its mission is to foster discussion and understanding of diversity and inclusion as a dynamic strategy to support and advance technology transfer worldwide.
Our committee welcomes input on this important, ongoing EDI conversation. Email your comments to me, or to our Chair, Megan Aanstoos.
AUTM Drives Ongoing EDI Conversation
AUTM Insight, V2, Issue #7
March 25, 2020
By Megan Aanstoos, PhD
Chair, AUTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee
Diversity is important in driving employee satisfaction and business success. Many companies have responded to recently published studies demonstrating these figures by forming new offices or C-suite level roles aimed at improvement. AUTM similarly recognizes and values diversity as essential to a vibrant workforce and community. However, diversity alone is not enough; to make meaningful and permanent changes in operation and culture, companies also need to incorporate inclusion and equality.
To integrate these components, AUTM formed an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee, tasked with helping holistically guide its Board of Directors, Cabinet and Membership in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization. The Committee operates in conjunction with other committees and special interest groups to provide education, policy recommendations, and programming to the AUTM community. The first goal was to implement changes within AUTM itself (e.g. diversifying panels in -programming) and leading by example. The second is, over time, to provide information to Members on how to address EDI in their tech transfer offices (TTOs) and provide guidance to those in the profession at large.
In order to implement change, you need to identify where to start. Below are the general principles behind EDI:
- Equity – Acknowledging everyone is not starting from the same place, but when addressed, ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities by correcting the disparity
- Diversity – Measureable similarities and differences of individuals as related to a larger group (example: gender, race, disability)
- Inclusion – Providing the best possible conditions to support and promote diverse people and ideas by ensuring fair access, respect, and recognition of the values that each individual contributes
Our committee consists of members with diverse representation across academia, industry, government, genders, ages, races and experience levels. The committee began its work in July 2019. Since formation, we have provided support to AUTM on policy language (ex. the SUCCESS Act), engaged with underrepresented institutions through outreach efforts, assisted in helping bring more diversity to panels for meetings, and provided general guidance. Our advice led quickly to changes at the AUTM Annual Meeting that we were excited for everyone to see, like better captioning, translation and transcription of major speeches, pronoun name badge ribbons, and a private room for nursing mothers. These inclusive opportunities inspired sponsors to cover expenses and were implemented quickly to make a real difference in the Annual Meeting inclusion. While none of us got to experience these changes first hand, some (like captioning all webinars and video content) are now an official part of operations. We can’t wait for Seattle in 2021!
Over the next year, the EDI committee plans to create a toolkit to help guide Members, refine and publish our Statement of Values, host a panel on diversity in TTOs, provide assistance for responses to upcoming legislation, and provide education and outreach to minority TTOs.
We look forward to having ongoing conversations about EDI and engaging with our AUTM colleagues and others in the broader technology transfer field on how to create more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environments. We want to position AUTM on the leading edge of EDI in the global research commercialization ecosystem to make a better world—for everyone.
Meet the new EDI Committee:
- Megan Aanstoos – Chair
- Cedric d’Hue
- Nichole Mercier
- Clay Christian
- Taunya Phillips
- Karen Maples
- Dimitra Georganopoulou
- Almesha Campbell
- Tanaga Boozer
- Gayatri Varma