Well that’s caused some debate. A brief
write-up about Managing IP’s forthcoming
Women’s Forum on the IPKat blog has prompted comments about CIA
conspiracies, anti-feminist backlashes and Margaret
Thatcher’s motherly (or otherwise) qualities, as
well as a Mike Giggler-esque suggestion for boosting
the number of women in the patent profession (hiring the
Sun’s newly-redundant Page 3 models).
But back to the
real world. Here’s why Managing IP decided to
launch events aimed at women: we thought it would meet a
We looked at the statistics about the number of men and
women beginning their careers in law firms and those that made
partnership or took on chief IP counsel roles and saw a gap in
the figures and in the market.
We don’t know why more women leave the
profession than men: perhaps they can’t (or no
longer want to) hack it. Perhaps their priorities change.
Perhaps they can’t see a way of returning to law
after a career break (even as white collar careers might soon
stretch to 50 years).
Perhaps they face systemic and unconscious (or conscious)
bias that undermines their commitment and ambition. Perhaps
they find it hard to find sponsors (not surprising, given the
innuendo about "silver spoons" given by "sugar daddies"
detailed by one anonymous IPKat commentator). Perhaps they just
need to Lean In.
But we do know that many law firms and companies want to
limit the number of smart and expensively-trained staff that
choose to leave them and are asking questions about how their
culture, practices and policies can help them do that. We
thought we could organise events and set up a network that
would facilitate the process.
So far our efforts have proved quite popular. Our network
has hosted interviews with senior women in the profession and
case studies on issues including mentoring and sponsorship.
Offering a platform for innovative firms to showcase their own
practices and share their experiences helps people at more
conservative law firms (of which, we know, there are many) to
petition for change.
We had more than 200
women (and men) attend our inaugural Women’s
International Leadership event in New York last year. The
audience was even bigger at our second in San Jose (pictured)
and we received more enthusiastic feedback about them than any
other IP event I have been involved with. We hope our forum in
London on February 24 will be equally well-received.
Our events have given a new platform for senior women in the
profession to talk about substantive law issues (and with a roster of speakers like this, there is no
compromise on quality) as well as talk about strategies for
managing career progression. That has proved helpful for senior
professionals who want to share ideas about bringing on and
retaining junior staff, as well as offering a whole range of
role models for younger women.
This role model effect, we have found, has proved immensely
popular. There are many successful people who put their career
achievements down to individual capability and ambition. In
doing so they often dismiss the importance of having role
models in their own likeness. In my experience, these
people’s role models often look and sound very
much like themselves.
Find out more about the International Women’s Leadership
Forum in London on February 24.