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Retention and Advancement Subcommittee



A message from our Co-Chairs:

The Subcommittee on Retention and Advancement was initiated to address the challenges facing women in the intellectual property law workplace that have resulted in more women than men leaving the IP profession and a lack of women leaders within their workplace's management structure.  Although there is anecdotal evidence of the challenges and issues that face women in the IP profession, there has been no reliable survey evidence on these topics.  The Subcommittee addresses these concerns for women and their employers with the following agenda.

This subcommittee participates in programming to support women in achieving their career goals including developing leadership skills, seeking out sponsors and mentors in the workplace, and providing other educational programs at the AIPLA meetings.  A major project of the committee has been the inclusion of questions on the state of the profession on retention and advancement in the AIPLA bi-annual membership survey with answers broken out by gender, age and other factors.  Starting in 2011 and continuing with the 2013 survey questions were included on why practitioners were leaving the profession, job satisfaction criteria, and career goals, among other topics.  Also, the AIPLA Economic Survey is now broken out by gender in order to obtain reliable data on advancement in corporations and law firms, pay comparisons and other financial information.  The AIPLA has retained Annette Kahler, a renowned expert in women’s contributions to the innovative ecosphere, to analyze the information and prepare a paper reporting the results from collected data.

The subcommittee will continue to work on the membership survey and economic surveys to obtain the most relevant information on retention and advancement in order to provide programming for the AIPLA members on this topic and to encourage and assist our women members to seek their individual career goals. 


Meg Boulware – Co-Chair

Melissa Buss – Co-Chair

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Analysis of AIPLA’s Economic / Member Surveys:

“National Association of Women Lawyers showed that women comprise just 17 percent of equity partners in the nation’s 200 biggest firms and that the proportion has held for the past eight years. Firms with two or more women on decision-making committees pay female equity partners about 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn while those without pay women about 85 percent, according to the report.”
“Female attorneys made only 77 percent of what male attorneys took home in 2014, and women in all legal professions were paid just over half of what men in the industry made, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau…. Among all those industries, legal occupations ended up being the sector with the largest gender pay gap for median pay.”
March 17, 2016

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Projects carried out by this subcommittee:



Historical Analysis of Women Participation in AIPLA Project

Scope of Project/Focus

To first understand where we can make the greatest impact on the participation of women in AIPLA, we are conducting a historical analysis of the number of women who are chairs and vice chairs of AIPLA committees, and are members of the board of directors.  We are also conducting an analysis of women participants in the association generally and at the stated meetings.

Deliverables/Outcomes/Actions by Annual Meeting 2015

  • Present statistical analysis to date at the mid-winter, spring and annual meetings to educate members.
  • Prior statistical analysis shared by Lisa Jorgenson with the USPTO on June 18th.
  • Latest data was updated with both Spring and Annual Meetings.  Christine Genge presented at Annual Meeting Women in IP Breakfast.
  • Longer term, hope to have  “white paper” to present to the Board.

Members

Christine Genge,


Meg Boulware,


Cary Jordan

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Statistical Analysis of Gender-Based Responses from Economic/Membership Survey Project

Scope of Project/Focus

A large amount of information is available from the Economic Surveys, which have been available for many years, and from the Membership Surveys, which now include gender based questions.  However, no one to date has analyzed the answers to provide a statistical analysis on how our AIPLA members are doing.

Deliverables/Outcomes/Actions by Annual Meeting 2015

  • Present statistical analysis to date at the annual meeting.  Identify major gaps between women and men.
  • Prior statistical analysis shared by Lisa Jorgenson with the USPTO on June 18th.
  • Analysis is done up to 2012, but 2015 data needs to be added.
  • Lacy Kolo volunteered her husband, a statistician, to do future work on this project.

Members






Meg Boulware

Eileen Mathews


Christine Genge


Cary Jordan
(volunteer statistician)

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Program Sharing Best Proven Practices for Retention and Advancement at AIPLA Women in IP Breakfast


Scope of Project/Focus

Various companies and law firms have instituted programs and practices specifically focused on retaining and advancing women in the field of IP Law.  However, some may have programs that are more for marketing purposes, rather than for implementing results and making real changes.  We will create a forum where proven best practices will be shared with our Women in IP members.

Deliverables/Outcomes/Actions by Annual Meeting 2015

  • Identify and review potential company and law firm candidates that have proven results for retaining and advancing women in IP law.
  • Put together program proposal where at least 3-4 companies and firms will present their best practices and how these practices have made a difference in their environment.
  • Gather information from various sources, such as Catalyst, to gather a list of best practices or articles for possible dissemination.
  • Identify law firms recognized by reputable publications as best places for women to work, in terms of retention and advancement.
  • Currently slotted for Annual Meeting Women in IP Breakfast 2016. - Think about asking Director Michelle Lee to join as speaker?
  • Hoping to gather various articles on this topic and put on Women in IP Microsite to be available to members. 

Members

Meg Boulware


Melissa Buss

Chen Wang

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Outreach/Build the Pipeline Project


Scope of Project/Focus

In order to build a future of strong female leaders in patent law, we must start our level of engagement very early in the pipeline.  Statistics show that girls tend to not be aware of careers in intellectual property law, or tend to drop their interests in science and engineering.  We are looking for opportunities at different universities to reach out and help “build the pipeline” for future intellectual property attorneys.

Deliverables/Outcomes/Actions by Annual Meeting 2015

  • Clemson University’s Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) program is hosting a professional development webinar series.  This series is meant to fight against stereotypes against professional women in an easily accessible and constructive manner.  This series is graciously sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Pantene, and Clemson University.
  • During each webinar, three to five guest speakers will host a panel discussion centered on each individual webinar topic.  Patent Law has been one of the topics.
  • (develop kits? For our members to use with their own alma matters?)
  • (insert “pay it forward” program: input to be provided by Cary)
  • Potential candidates: UCLA Law School, University of Minnesota.
  • Cary’s slides/toolkit to be put on Women in IP Microsite.

Members

Meg Boulware


Vickie Norton


Cary Jordan

Laura Bozek

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Retention of Women IP Lawyers in AIPLA Project

Scope of Project/Focus

Female members tend to drop out of AIPLA more frequently, possibly due to lack of engagement and family obligations. It is also difficult for some female members to make conferences due to work and family.  We will create processes to get the women involved in AIPLA and show tie them into the network of other women members.

Deliverables/Outcomes/Actions by Annual Meeting 2015

  • Identify other committees that may want to coordinate for local meet ups
  • Put together a program proposal for receiving a monthly list of new members, and assigning the females to a volunteer. The program should also contain example processes of information the volunteer can pass along, and examples of how the volunteer can engage the new member.
  • For each conference, receive in advance a list of the new members who are first attendees and volunteers reach out personally to invite to dinner or drinks.
  • Gather information on how to put on a monthly call for new members to discuss AIPLA offerings, and other efforts.
  • Very successful “reach out” to the new women members attending the Annual Meeting.  Each first time attendee was reached out to by Lacy Kolo, Eileen Mathews, Jessica, or Melissa and invited to the Women in IP Breakfast.  Lacy and Eileen set up coffees, a dinner, etc. to reach out and make these new members feel welcome and to make AIPLA more “sticky” for women members.  Melissa also personally invited every women she met to come to the breakfast, regardless of whether or not they had a ticket.  Result: we didn’t have enough chairs or tables, but the staff quickly got more.  We asked that new members stand up and we gave them a round of applause.  Great turn out!
  • -Local meet ups?  Holly sent email about possible meeting in UK.

Members

Nancy Mertzel


Lacy Kolo


Janet Fuhrer

Eileen Mathews

Holly Cowie


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"The Thick Pink Line" Project.

Scope of Project/Focus

There was a recent report recognizing that one factor standing in the way of the advancement of women attorneys is that women are reviewed based on higher standards than their male counterparts, in part because supervised attorneys, agents and staff give harsher upward reviews to “hard-driving” women partners than “hard-driving” male partners.  (E.g., there is a “thick pink line”)  Another way to view this is that women attorneys must tread a tightrope with respect to being perceived as assertive without being perceived as abrasive.  We are studying the report and will contact the authors to obtain additional information on how we might study this further among AIPLA women members (for instance by drafting a member survey).

Deliverables/Outcomes/Actions by Annual Meeting 2015

  • Provide a synopsis of the report and a list of resources addressing the topic.
  • Determine whether it is feasible to take a survey to further study the factors that contribute to the “thick pink line”.
  • If we do take a survey, we can determine the factors that lead to this type of bias and how to avoid it.
  • article on “aggressive” vs. “abrasive?”
  • article on women’s use of body language?

Members

Vickie Norton

Suzannah Sundby