At WIPO, Panel Urges Women To Get Out Of Their Comfort Zones 20/10/2015 by Marianna Drake for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Panellists at a recent discussion on women and intellectual property proposed steps institutions and women themselves could take to increase the number of female entrepreneurs, in order for the IP system to benefit men and women equally. The panel discussion sought to showcase good practices of World Intellectual Property Organization member states, focusing on the Dominican Republic, Philippines, Poland and Sweden, whilst addressing the challenging question of how to create an IP ecosystem that enables women to reap the rewards of their innovative endeavours. The event aptly took place on 13 October alongside the WIPO annual General Assembly, marking the internationally recognised Ada Lovelace Day 2015 – a day to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The day is named after Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, who is widely believed to be the world’s first computer programmer. Lovelace is the type of role model that the panellists all agreed the world needs more of: a woman making successful contributions to the traditionally male-dominated STEM fields. Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations, started the discussions by explaining that women are the named inventors of only 11 percent of patents globally. She set out the obstacles women face in becoming entrepreneurs, and stated that increasing the number of women and girls in STEM fields is vital to increasing the equality of women throughout the world. Hamamoto asserted that women could not “change the world without IP protection,” and that she looks “forward to the day” when women and men can equally access the IP system for the economic development of “us all”. Insights into the position of women in the Dominican Republic’s IP sector were provided by Ruth Lockward, director general of the National Office of Industrial Property of the Dominican Republic. She described how whilst many women in the Dominican Republic attend universities, 60 percent of them study to become teachers. Lockward explained how, as women are often the heads of families, they are compelled to vocational studies in a field where they can find a job and support their families afterwards. She emphasised how increasing the number of female entrepreneurs and patent holders in the Dominican Republic requires teaching girls from the very beginning of their schooling “not to be scared of studying maths,” and to channel their natural curiosity into an enthusiasm for STEM subjects. Alicja Adamczak, president of Poland’s Patent Office, described how the patent office supports a wide spectrum of bottom-up initiatives aiming to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM fields. Adamczak explained how initiatives such as “Innovation is a Woman” and “Girls as Engineers!” are working to defy the “stereotype that women are not good at science” and shape the “public debate” around women. She stated that women “are also responsible for changes” and should be “the ones to create them.” Women should be encouraged to “leave their comfort zones,” and not be “afraid of change,” Adamczak proposed, but rather “support other women” and bring up their “daughters with the faith that they can achieve their goals.” Hamamoto highlighted how it is important to remember the role the media plays in shaping women’s and young girls’ desires, ambitions and career decisions. She suggested that pressure should be placed on media outlets to ensure that the public discussion over gender equality begins to change. This sentiment was echoed by Allan Gepty, deputy director general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, who stated that the media could play an important part in educating and “enlightening” women about their rights. When posed the question of what the WIPO secretariat could do to promote gender equality throughout the IP field, Hamamoto and Gepty concurred that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling the issue, as member states face different challenges. Adamczak insisted that WIPO has an important role to play in encouraging women to venture out of their comfort zones and boldly explore opportunities in STEM fields. Lockward, in her response, emphasised that WIPO should help to bring role models of successful female scientists and entrepreneurs to the Dominican Republic, as it is vital for women to see that they can have a viable career in STEM fields. In her concluding remarks, Hamamoto asserted that it is “obvious” that the “old way” of approaching gender equality is not resulting in sufficient progress. She called for both top-down and bottom-up approaches that focus on the long-term aim of achieving gender equality, and cited the “International Geneva Gender Champions Leadership Network” as an example of such new initiatives. The US mission held the launch of the Gender Champions network today in Geneva. The press release is here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Marianna Drake may be reached at email@example.com."At WIPO, Panel Urges Women To Get Out Of Their Comfort Zones" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.