Closing the Inventor Gender Gap with John-Paul Ferguson, Lucy Gilbert, and Negin Ashouri
Social inequalities are responsible for the loss of millions of ideas and inventions over hundreds of years. Recently dubbed the “Lost Einsteins” effect, this loss over time is measurable today in a decline in innovation, slowing economic growth, and repercussions on all sectors, from technology to health care. The gender gap among inventors affects what gets invented – and consequently who benefits from innovation.
Desautels Faculty of Management Professor John-Paul Ferguson investigates the question of whether members of specific social groups may be more likely to patent inventions targeted toward their own group's needs and interests. He and his colleagues at Harvard Business School and the Universidad de Navarra in Barcelona share their findings in research paper, "Who do We Invent For? Patents by Women Focus More on Women's Health, but Few Women Get to Invent," published in the journal Science.
In this episode of the Delve podcast, we talk with Professor Ferguson about his research and bring in the first-hand experience of two professionals who recently patented inventions in the field of health care. Dr. Lucy Gilbert is a surgeon, McGill professor and the Director of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of the Women’s Health Research Unit at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). She is the founder of the DOvEE clinics in Montreal, which stands for Diagnosing Ovarian and Endometrial Cancers Early, and she and her team have developed a new genetic pap-test called DOvEEgene for detecting gynecologic cancers very early before they even cause the symptoms that indicate a serious treat to life.
Our other guest, Negin Ashouri, is an engineer, computer scientist and young biomedical entrepreneur who offers another perspective on the issue of women and biomedical invention. She is Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of FemTherapeutics, a company that applies artificial intelligence to the field of medicine in her team’s recent invention, created to meet an unmet need in gynecological medicine: a 3D-printed pessary device that processes measurements by a doctor to design a pessary with the optimal fit. She recently received the prestigious Mitacs Change Agent Entrepreneur Award for her and her team’s work.
For more insights, listen to the full interview with Professor John-Paul Ferguson, Dr. Lucy Gilbert, and Negin Ashouri on the Delve podcast. You can subscribe to the Delve podcast on all major podcast platforms, including Apple podcasts and Spotify.