IP, women and leadership: your poll responses

After staging two successful events in the United States, Managing Intellectual Property magazine decided to import its intellectual property International Women's Leadership Forum to Europe (it takes place in London on 24 February). Readers may already have perused the early thoughts from the IPKat and Merpel on this concept here. as well as a response to some rather immoderate comments by readers of this blog by MIP's Emma Barraclough. Given the lively interest in the topic, this Kat initiated a sidebar poll, in which readers were invited to tick boxes for each of the statements below with which they agreed.

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 129 (44%) 
  • 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 25 (8%) 
  • 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.
IP, women and leadership: your poll responses IP, women and leadership: your poll responses Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, February 04, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. Hello. Just on your last para - maternity [parental] leave, family responsibilities and workplace harassment are all issues relevant to men with careers in IP also. There will not be equality of opportunity in the domestic or professional sphere while these are considered important to one gender only - and both genders lose out as a result.

  2. Not to pick a nit, but if you really believe that "Readers in general, as well as those who organise, speak in and register for IP events, will doubtless draw their own conclusions." then I would posit that you did not structure your poll in a meaningful way (read that as your poll was a genuine waste of time).

    Perhaps a re-poll that provides views not so malleable as to be anything to anyone, and thus achieving being nothing to everyone.

  3. Anonymous of 19:09, thanks for your comment.

    You're welcome to posit whatever you want. Perhaps you have never shared any time and space with economists, statisticians and others who can demonstrate how many different and often conflicting conclusions can be drawn from the same data set.


  4. I'd love to spend more time with my children, but I find myself covering for the mothers in the department who can leave at will when little Tarquin has a nose bleed at school, whereas I'm questioned about why my wife can't sort my offspring out.

  5. Has anyone actually noticed that in key IP policy and law making positions in government (UK, US, France, Germany to name a few), the EU (in more than one institution and for some time now) and WIPO (ditto)-it is women that occupy these roles. They occasionally do the conference circuit but not often.

  6. There are a lot of women in IP roles. If we count the number of roles Andrea Brewster takes on as separate roles, they probably outnumber men.

  7. Anonymous at 22:17 - I would suggest that the criticism belongs with your department for not treating mothers and fathers equally.


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