Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP today announced that life sciences patent partner Mercedes K. Meyer has been elected to the board of directors of the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation (IPOEF).

Dr. Meyer, a Washington, D.C.-based patent counselor with a doctorate in virology, previously served on the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) Women in IP Committee, in keeping with her broader calling to increase awareness of and opportunities for women inventors and innovators, including seeing more women patent-holders.

The 20-member IPOEF board, elected by the IPO board of directors, meets quarterly and comprises intellectual property professionals from across the business and legal landscape. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the education foundation works at the direction of the board to help educate and inspire new generations of creators and pioneers through outreach to younger people and teaching the importance of IP.

A yearly Foundation Awards dinner, to be held this year on December 12 at the National Building Museum in Washington, recognizes national leaders in the IP field as well as student winners of contests sponsored by the Education Foundation.

Dr. Meyer said, “I’m very excited to join the board and my new colleagues who believe, as I do, in the foundational importance of intellectual property rights in supporting and sustaining technical and creative innovation. I very much look forward to my new role championing the many events and programs the IPOEF sponsors to teach inventors and students about intellectual property law and its place in a democratic society.”

In addition to her thriving practice advising and representing life sciences and biotechnology companies in portfolio development as well as adversarial matters, Dr. Meyer has a strong commitment to growing the role of women in IP fields. She has collaborated with AUTM (formerly the Association of University Technology Managers), a technology and research advocacy group, and the IPO to develop a toolkit that helps companies and their female researchers promote patentable discoveries. After beta-testing by two dozen corporations, including 3M, Eli Lilly, Micron Technology, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, the final version of the toolkit will be rolled out in September 2019.

Dr. Meyer notes that, with the growing presence of women in STEM fields and among PhDs and law school graduates, women readily self-identify as scientists, but more reluctantly as inventors and entrepreneurs.

“Historically, women are programmed as girls to believe that self-promotion isn’t a sought-after quality,” Dr. Meyer told Tech Transfer’s eNews Blog. She added, “That disconnect between how boys and girls are treated and mentally programmed to act and react has downstream consequences for many women.

“People need to be taught that they can self-identify as being an inventor, an entrepreneur, a general counsel or a CEO and still be a woman.”

Fewer than 8% of patents filed list a woman as the primary inventor; 80% include only men as inventors. The disparity has prompted such terms as “lost Edisons” or “lost Einsteins,” referencing the female creators and visionaries who do not end up with official, legally protected credit for their work.

Dr. Meyer is joined on the IPOEF board by executives from companies such as Microsoft, GE, Dow Chemical, Starbucks, Micron Technology, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as other lawyers in private practice.

The passage of the federal SUCCESS Act last October further encourages greater participation by women and minorities in the IP system, as a means of harnessing the country’s full innovative strength. Diverse companies show stronger bottom lines; an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development study concluded that gender inclusive organizations perform 54% better than less diverse companies do. McKinsey Global Institute estimated in 2015 that narrowing the gender gap at corporations could add between $12 trillion and $28 trillion to the U.S. GDP in 10 years.