The Value Gap is a MarketWatch Q&A series with business leaders, academics, policymakers and activists on reducing racial and social inequalities.

Innovation holds the promise of economic prosperity for emerging inventors — but for some, seeing their idea come to fruition remains out of reach.

“Throughout history, women and underrepresented minorities have not been able to participate fully in each stage of the innovation process,” Lisa Cook, a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, told MarketWatch. “We have to make sure that people understand that they have creativity, and their ideas will be taken seriously.”

Diversity gaps in the U.S. patent system persist, in part, because of an absence of data on patent applicants. This lack of transparency has meant that patent holders are predominantly white, male and wealthy.

A recent study found that women, especially African-American and Latina women, obtain patents at significantly lower rates than men; people of color get approved for patents less often than white people; and individuals from lower-income families are less likely to acquire a patent than those who grew up in affluent families.

Cook’s expertise on a range of macroeconomic issues earned her roles at the White House Council of Economic Advisers under former President Barack Obama and on President Biden’s transition team.

Asked about reports that she is on a shortlist of economists under consideration for a vacant Fed board seat, Cook said, “I’m honored my name has even been raised in the conversation.” If chosen and confirmed, she’d be the first Black woman to serve in the role. 

But Cook’s scholarship on invention gaps has also shed light on the economic costs of excluding African Americans and women. Including underrepresented groups in the patent-development process would increase U.S. GDP by 2.7% per capita, and by roughly $1 trillion annually, according to her research. The economic activity from patents is estimated to be over $8 trillion, more than one-third of U.S gross domestic product.

“Every single part of that system, as far as generating ideas, keeps the economy going,” Cook said. “That’s where my analysis begins and ends. The whole world benefits when we accelerate the pace and arrival rate of ideas.”

Read the whole original article here.

Pro-diversity messages are everywhere, whether you’re searching for a job, playing soccer, or watching the Oscars. Their point is simple: Diversity is good and we need more of it. In the business world, for example, we know that more-diverse groups tend to be more innovativecreativehard-working, and better at solving problems. Yet despite the proliferation of interest in diversity and costly initiatives aimed at increasing it, discrimination continues to be a major problem in the labor market.

In trying to address discrimination, many organizations now explicitly advertise their dedication to diversity, identifying themselves as “equal opportunity” or “diversity-friendly” employers. The thinking, presumably, is that such statements will increase the diversity of their applicant pool and ultimately of their workforce. We know a lot about how effective these diversity statements are, and, unfortunately, the answer is “not very.” They can even backfire by making organizations less likely to notice discrimination.

On the other hand, we know relatively little about the steps minority job seekers are taking to avoid anticipated discrimination. One way racial minorities may be trying to avoid discrimination is via a practice called “resume whitening” — concealing or downplaying racial cues on a job application to increase the chance of getting a callback for an interview. Resume whitening goes hand-in-hand with the desire to “tone down” or “downplay” race and to maintain a relatively “raceless” workplace identity.

To address this gap, we recently conducted three studies, which will appear in Administrative Science Quarterly, to learn more about whitening and how it is influenced by organizational diversity statements — and about how organizations respond to whitening.

In our first study, we interviewed black and Asian university students who were actively searching for jobs or internships. We found that roughly one-third of our sample had engaged in whitening, and two-thirds knew someone else who had. The main areas where this whitening occurred were with names (e.g., using a “white” first name such as Jenn instead of an Asian first name such as Jing) and descriptions of experience (e.g., dropping “Black” when listing membership in the “Black Engineering Students’ Association”). Among the motivations that interviewees mentioned for whitening, the main reason was to tone down their race in order to avoid discrimination. Importantly, interviewees indicated that they whitened less or not at all when applying to jobs for employers who explicitly state that they value diversity.

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An expert in entrepreneurship argues that greater diversity is the key to corporate creativity.

When Riitta Katila looks at old photos or movies about the space program of the 1960s, she sees one common thread among the people depicted there — homogeneity.

The engineers and technicians who first put humans on the moon were, almost without exception, white and male.

While society has come a long way in the decades since, Katila, who is an expert in technology strategy and organizational learning, says there’s still a long way to go. She notes that companies need innovation not only to reach the top, but to stay there. And now more than ever, innovative companies should be hiring, promoting, and listening to a broader range of voices.

The good news is that innovation can be taught. It’s like a recipe, says Katila, who encourages entrepreneurs — even those who have already built successful companies — to seek out mentors who can help them navigate the future. More important, those same entrepreneurs need to proactively identify mentors who can empower their team members to think like innovators too, as Katila tells Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast, hosted by bioengineer Russ Altman. You can listen and subscribe here.

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Five hundreds years ago a Spanish physiologist declared that genius was stored in the testicles. Even today, studies have shown that people associate men with genius more than women. Award-winning science writer and broadcaster Angela Saini wants to know why. Saini examines why people are so reluctant to credit intellectual brilliance to women – now and throughout history. Einstein, for instance, needed a woman’s help. She hears about a proposal for making the concept of genius more inclusive and discusses the impact on girls in school when teachers take gender out of classrooms.

Access their website to listen to the podcast episode

Companies spend millions on antibias training each year. The goal is to create workforces that are more inclusive, and thereby more innovative and more effective. Studies show that well-managed diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and are better at making decisions and solving problems. But research also shows that bias prevention programs rarely deliver. And some companies don’t invest in them at all. So how can you, as an individual leader, make sure your team is including and making the most of diverse voices? Can one person fix what an entire organization can’t?

Although bias itself is devilishly hard to eliminate, it is not as difficult to interrupt. In the decades we’ve spent researching and advising people on how to build and manage diverse work groups, we’ve identified ways that managers can counter bias without spending a lot of time—or political capital.

The first step is to understand the four distinct ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions: (1) Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others do. (2) Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviors is accepted from some groups than from others. (3) Maternal wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career focused. (4) Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.

The second step is to recognize when and where these forms of bias arise day-to-day. In the absence of an organizational directive, it’s easy to let them go unaddressed. That’s a mistake. You can’t be a great manager without becoming a bias interrupter. Here’s how to do it.

ACCESS THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

The state of women hangs in the balance

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, women have made important gains in representation, and especially in senior leadership. But the pandemic continues to take a toll. Women are now significantly more burned out—and increasingly more so than men.

Despite this added stress and exhaustion, women are rising to the moment as stronger leaders and taking on the extra work that comes with this: compared to men at the same level, women are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. They are also more likely than men to practice allyship. Yet this critical work is going unrecognized and unrewarded by most companies, and that has concerning implications. Companies risk losing the very leaders they need right now, and it’s hard to imagine organizations navigating the pandemic and building inclusive workplaces if this work isn’t truly prioritized.

There is also a disconnect between companies’ growing commitment to racial equity and the lack of improvement we see in the day-to-day experiences of women of color. Women of color face similar types and relative frequencies of microaggressions as they did two years ago—and they remain far more likely than white women to be on the receiving end of disrespectful and “othering” behavior. And while more white employees see themselves as allies to women of color, they are no more likely than last year to speak out against discrimination, mentor or sponsor women of color, or take other actions to advocate for them.

The impact of the last year and half on women is still far from clear. But the risks to women—and the companies that depend on their leadership—are very real.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

Dr. Rory Cooper is the founder and director of the Human Engineering Research Labs (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh and Department of Veteran Affairs in the United States. From ergonomic push rims (a patented technology that reduces upper extremity pain and injury in wheelchair users) on wheelchairs to robots to assist with lifts and transfers, home automation and prosthetics, there’s no stopping Dr. Cooper – Paralympian, serial inventor, army veteran, engineer, marathon racer. Dr. Cooper discusses his ground-breaking work and the importance of intellectual property (IP) in bringing it to the market.


Access the original WIPO Magazine article here

A discussion of the latest research on biases and obstacles keeping women in out of inventorship and how copmanies and academia can eliminate them. With Elyse Shaw, IWPR.

This is from a session at the 2021 Increasing Diversity in Innovation conference that took place on July 26-29, 2021. The conference was hosted by UC Berkeley Fung Institute and USIPA.

Slides:

Reaching Diverse Inventors Using Brainstorm Techniques panel with:

Saadia Saifuddin
IP Analytics and Strategy, Cisco

Ahsan Shaikh
Head of Patent Prosecution, McDermott Will & Emery

Michelle Martinez
Senior Patent and Open Source Counsel, eBay

This is from a session at the 2021 Increasing Diversity in Innovation conference that took place on July 26-29, 2021. The conference was hosted by UC Berkeley Fung Institute and USIPA.

Slides:

Data – Lessons learned from the front lines on how to establish your baseline, how to analyze your data for anomalies and/or bias and where to focus your first efforts.

Panel with:


Robert Pechman
Chief IP Counsel, Seagate Technology LLC

Jason Friday
Senior Counsel, Intellectual Property, Lenovo

Justin Cook
Associate General Counsel, IP, The Nielsen Company

Jeff Tang
VP, Intellectual Property, BlackRock

This is from a session at the 2021 Increasing Diversity in Innovation conference that took place on July 26-29, 2021. The conference was hosted by UC Berkeley Fung Institute and USIPA.

Slides: