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Career Advancement Through Academic Commercialization: Acknowledging and Reducing Barriers for Women Engineering Faculty

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division: Faculty and Gender Issues

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.327.1 - 26.327.19



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Paper Authors


Ari Turrentine VentureWell

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Ari is in charge of survey administration for internal program evaluation on the research and evaluation team at VentureWell. Her duties also include survey creation, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, program logic model development, and evaluation coordination across various stakeholder groups. Most recently Ari held positions in Austin, Texas at OneStar Foundation as a Fellow on the Texas Connector project and at the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Lewis & Clark College in Psychology and a Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.

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Career Advancement through Academic Commercialization: Acknowledging and Reducing Barriers for Women Engineering Faculty Although schools engineering are increasingly considering patenting, licensing, andcommercialization in faculty bids for tenure and promotion, women candidates participate inthese activities at disproportionately lower rates than their male counterparts (Polkowska, 2013;Rosser, 2009; Sanberg et al., 2014; Stephan & ElGanainy, 2006; Thursby & Thursby, 2005; K.Whittington, n.d.; K. B. Whittington & Smith-Doerr, 2008). As research has shown that women’sinventions are frequently designed to address important social problems, the societal relevancy ofaddressing the gap in engagement in academic commercialization activities intensifies (Donna,Brush, Greene, & Litovsky, 2013; Rosser, 2009). This gender gap can largely be explained by thesignificant obstacles that women faculty in engineering face in their career and as they engageacademic commercialization. Barriers such as discrimination micro-stressors, lack of peer supportnetworks, lack of mentors, exclusion from professional scientific and entrepreneurial networks,and institutional policy impact the ability of women faculty to continue in the field, engage inacademic commercialization, and ultimately advance their career (Donna et al., 2013; Joy, Carter,Wagner, & Narayanan, 2007; Sanberg et al., 2014; Sonnert & Holton, 1996; Tanenbaum & Upton,2014; K. B. Whittington & Smith-Doerr, 2008; Kjersten Bunker Whittington & Smith-Doerr,2005; “Women’s Employment in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math Jobs Slowing,” 2013;Yoder, 2012). This paper aims to synthesize relevant literature pertaining to impediments towardsacademic commercialization and career advancement for women faculty in engineering andscience. The purpose is to not only raise awareness of the likely origins of these issues, but tomake recommendations on how staff, faculty, departments, and universities can create a moreequitable career trajectory for women faculty in engineering. Immediate and long term shifts inindividual and institutional bias, policy, practice, and training could make a significant differencein engineering innovation for social and environmental change. ReferencesDonna, K., Brush, C., Greene, P., & Litovsky, Y. (2013). GEM 2012 Womens Report.pdf. Babson College. Retrieved from research/gem/Documents/GEM%202012%20Womens%20Report.pdfJoy, L., Carter, N. M., Wagner, H. M., & Narayanan, S. (2007). The bottom line: Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards. Catalyst, 3.Polkowska, D. (2013). Women Scientists in the Leaking Pipeline: Barriers to the Commercialisation of Scientific Knowledge by Women. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 8(2), 156–165.Rosser, S. V. (2009). The gender gap in patenting: Is technology transfer a feminist issue? NWSA Journal, 21(2), 65–84.Sanberg, P., Gharib, M., Harker, P., Kaler, E., Marchase, R., Sands, T., … Sarkar, S. (2014). Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from, G., & Holton, G. (1996). Career patterns of women and men in the sciences. American Scientist, 63–71.Stephan, P. E., & ElGanainy, A. A. (2006). The Entrepreneurial Puzzle: Explaining the Gender Gap. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.975953Tanenbaum, C., & Upton, R. (2014). Early Academic Career Pathways in STEM: Do Gender and Family Status Matter?. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from http://www. air. org/resource/early-academic-career-pathways-stem-dogender-and- family-status-matter. Retrieved from %20Pathway_March%202014.pdfThursby, J. G., & Thursby, M. C. (2005). Gender Patterns of Research and Licensing Activity of Science and Engineering Faculty. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 30(4), 343–353. doi:10.1007/s10961-005-2580-6Whittington, K. (n.d.). Gender and Scientific Work across Organizational Settings: Commercial Patenting in Academia and Industry. Work and Occupations.Whittington, K. B., & Smith-Doerr, L. (2005). Gender and commercial science: Women’s patenting in the life sciences. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 30(4), 355–370.Whittington, K. B., & Smith-Doerr, L. (2008). Women Inventors in Context: Disparities in Patenting across Academia and Industry. Gender & Society, 22(2), 194–218. doi:10.1177/0891243207313928Women’s Employment in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math Jobs Slowing. (2013). Retrieved September 26, 2014, from 162.htmlYoder, B. L. (2012). Engineering by the Numbers. American Society for Engineering Education, Washington, DC. Http://www. Asee. Org/papers-and- publications/publications/collegeprofiles/2011-Profile-Engineering-Statistics. Pdf. Retrieved from

Turrentine, A. (2015, June), Career Advancement Through Academic Commercialization: Acknowledging and Reducing Barriers for Women Engineering Faculty Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23666

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