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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2022




Brooklyn Law School




People of color and women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM”) fields in the United States. Through both intentional and unintentional structural barriers, universities continue to lose valuable intellectual resources by perpetuating a lack of gender, racial, and ethnic diversity as people climb the academic ladder. Identifying racial and gender disparities between university campus populations and their patent representation quantifies the qualitatively observed systemic racism and sexism plaguing STEM. Although many have written about racial and gender underrepresentation in STEM, no author has ever endeavored to simultaneously quantify the racial and gender gap at universities in the United States, especially not in the field of patent inventorship recognition. Without data quantifying the underrepresentation of women and people of color, specifically when protecting their intellectual property rights, universities cannot show that their programs designed to close these gaps are, in fact, effective.

This is the first paper to quantitatively estimate the patent gap between white, male inventors, inventors of color, and female inventors at Ivy League institutions, Historically Black Colleges or Universities (“HBCUs”), research institutions, and other highly ranked universities in the United States. By comparing the racial and gender representation on university patents to the representation at the university, the data can conclusively demonstrate that intellectual property underrepresentation is rampant within a seemingly equalizing environment, where every student and faculty member theoretically has equal access to university funding and legal representation to obtain patents on their intellectual property. Universities and researchers can use this data to determine whether mentorship, outreach, tenure-track, and funding programs implemented to close racial and gender gaps are effective or simply restorative justice theater. With underrepresentation gaps of over 2600%, universities are obligated to pursue programs for practical academic equity, rather than false promises of equal opportunity.

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