Study Examines Gender Inequalities in Academic Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A new study by a pair of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst examines the role academic inequalities play in gender and innovation, and the implications these inequalities have in determining who such innovations serve. The study summarizes research on gender and race gaps in academic entrepreneurship, examines the reasons for those longstanding inequities, and discusses why these innovation gaps matter and the need to think critically about academic commercialization.

The researchers write that “improving representation in innovation would shift the very nature of knowledge production, leading to the development of inventions aimed at improving the lives of people who have been traditionally marginalized or harmed by inventions.”

Laural Smith-Doerr, a professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and co-author for the study, stated that “research shows us that who inventors are matters for who benefits from the innovations. One recent study found that when women life scientists made up the majority of teams patenting an idea, those innovations were more likely to benefit women’s health. If innovations are going to benefit everyone, we need inventors to come from all walks of life.”

Ethel Mickey, a sociologist and postdoctoral research associate at the University of Massachusetts, was the lead author of the study.

The full study, “Gender and Innovation Through an Intersectional Lens: Re-Imagining Academic Entrepreneurship in the United States,” was published in the journal Sociology Compass. It may be accessed here.

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