In the event, 292 readers participated and their responses, in descending order of support, read like this:
- An IP leadership event for women is a great idea
- Leadership in IP and gender have nothing to do with each other 104 (35%)
- The very fact that such events are well supported indicates that there is a real need for them 95 (32%)
- Leadership is inherent: either you lead or you follow 89 (30%)
- Men should have observer status: they might learn something 61 (20%) [the organisers have since clarified that observer status is available]
- Ethnic and religious groups would benefit from IP leadership events 28 (9%)
- Men need their own IP leadership events too
- It is not gender but preference that counts: leadership events are needed for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people too 26 (8%)
- Women have a different perspective on IP to men 18 (6%)
Readers in general, as well as those who organise, speak in and register for IP events, will doubtless draw their own conclusions. This Kat is a little surprised that there is so little support for the proposition that ethnic and religious groups would benefit from such events. He has participated in two over the years (one under the auspices of the Jewish Association for Business Ethics, which sadly closed in 2012 for lack of funds, and one as a three-way dialogue between Christian, Moslem and Jewish IP practitioners and academics) and found them refreshingly willing to discuss the moral dimension of IP ownership and infringement -- issues that are important to IP policy formation but which tend to be blocked out of the debate in the European Union where, with the exception of bio-patents, there is little official interest in any policy consideration other than the purely economic.
Another point to make is that, of people to whom this Kat has spoken, several have spoken of the existence of issues that specifically concern women, including maternity leave, family responsibilities and workplace harassment. These are not explicitly addressed by the 24 February agenda, unless "personal work experiences and career progression" is a coded reference to them. These are not IP leadership issues per se but are of fundamental importance to any woman considering a career in any context.