Assoc. for Women in Science

Winter 2015

AWIS Magazine covers topics important to women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine fields. Topics include career advancement, work-life balance, the state of science and technology, women’s wellness, and AWIS’ political and

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50 association for women in science | winter 2015 awis@work Summit Explores Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship By Miriam Segal, Research Economist, and Lindsay Scherber, Regulatory Economist O n September 22, three economists from the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy attended the Association for Women in Science's (AWIS) 2015 National Summit on Innova- tion and Entrepreneurship: A Roadmap for Inclu- sion in Oakland, California. It featured Janet Na- politano, president of the University of California, as the keynote speaker, as well as a diverse array of panelists that included PhD cancer researchers and partners at consulting firms. Attending this event is part of the Office of Advocacy's effort to research and promote the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields entrepreneurship. Commercialization of inventions is the key step linking research and innovation. It is important to the U.S. economy since it transforms human capital (that is, years of painstaking research) into valuable innovations that create jobs and solve difficult problems. One outstanding example that panelists cited is Christine Ho, a PhD graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Ho transformed her research on rechargeable zinc batteries – which are more environmentally friendly than lithium batteries – into a company called Imprint Energy. She filed a patent application in 2010 and founded Imprint Energy with a Berkeley business school graduate, Brooks Kincaid, the same year. By June 2012, they had hired five employees and secured $6 million in Series A financing by June 2014. However, a 2014 report from the Office of Advocacy shows that Ho's experience may be relatively uncommon among female PhD recipients. Women with PhDs in STEM fields are only about half as likely to engage in patenting as their male counterparts (15% for women vs. 28% for men). And within most fields of study, female STEM PhD recipients were less likely to participate in entrepreneurial activity, such as owning a business or working at a startup. In general, women are less likely to be business owners than men. In 2013, 7.2% of employed women were self-employed, compared to 11.4% of men. Regardless of the cause of this difference, increasing women's participation in entrepreneurship – and fulfilling unrealized technological potential – could be one way to generate economic growth. Moreover, innovation is not a zero-sum game where one entrepreneur wins and the other loses. If women commercialized more patents, men would not necessarily commercialize less. Many panelists at the AWIS summit mentioned that although women's share of the workforce and of leadership positions is increasing, a disparity still exists; and no one was convinced At a roundtable earlier this year, Advocacy staff, members of the Association for Women in Science, National Women's Business Council, White House Council on Women and Girls, Washington State Department of Commerce, and representatives of women in the technology sector discussed how to get more capital in to the hands of women entrepreneurs. Access to capital is an essential part of a woman's ability to commercialize her patents. Back row, from left: Kimberlyn Leary, PhD, Advisor to the Council on Women Girls at The White House; Erin Kelley, Director of Research and Policy, National Women's Business Council; Christine Kymn, PhD, Director of Economic Research and Chief Economist, Small Business Administration (SBA); Jennifer Clarke, Regional Advocate for Region X, SBA; Lindsay Scherber, Regulatory Economist, SBA; Kamala Lopez, Actress, screenwriter, director and producer; Maura Little, Director of Economic Development of the Life Sciences Sector, Washington Department of Commerce. Front row, from left: Heather Metcalf, PhD, Director of Research and Analysis, AWIS; Laura Taylor, PhD candidate, cellular and molecular biology, University of Washington; Miriam Segal, Research Economist, SBA.

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