Powering change - Women in innovation and creativity
World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated every year on the 26 April as a way to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.
This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign celebrates the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.
Fieldfisher has a thriving and collaborative IP practice spanning our offices around the world. Below some of our women from across our different offices share their views on the roles and challenges of women in the IP sector:
"The work is hugely rewarding and interesting. The IP industry is not less representative of women than other industries, but it would be great to be surrounded by a more diverse group of people who reflect the society that we live in as this fosters new and interesting ideas."
Alison Dennis (Business Manager, IP Transactions and Commercialisation; and Sector Group Co-Head, Life Sciences. London)
"My experience is that female lawyers are taken seriously by business partners in the IP industry and are really accepted as leaders. However, this does not happen automatically, but only if you make your business partners feel that you are a real expert in your field and also have the personality of a leader."
Dr.Stefanie Greifeneder (IP Transactions and Commercialisation Partner, Munich)
"I think the IP industry can really do more to educate women on the resources available that can assist them in commercialising and protecting their IP. This is especially so for those women who have taken careers breaks to raise a family.
"One stand-out example of this is Mandy Haberman who invented the Haberman feeder, a special bottle feeder for children with sucking difficulties, and the Anywayup Cup, a non-spill toddler cup. These were invented while Ms Haberman was raising her children and needed solutions to problems that arose. In the UK there are Business and IP Centres which provides a one-stop shop to help people commercialise their IP. These should be better advertised and resourced in order to make them more accessible."
Shalini Jayaweera (Associate, IPTPE, London)
" I'm a strong believer that it's never too early to start fostering creativity and innovation: the work that's being done to promote STEM in schools, and particularly uptake of STEM activities by girls, is fantastic but there is more to be done in this space. It's also important that girls and young women have active and visible female role models that they can look to for inspiration."
Annabelle Gold-Caution (Technology , Outsourcing and Privacy, Solicitor, Manchester)
"Women have a strong presence in IP. As well as having lots of great women practising in IP, we now have several women in IP awards and women in IP conferences and events. We also have some amazing women in IP groups and initiatives, both within firms (such as Fieldfisher's 'Women@Work' initiative) and across the wider IP community (such as 'Women In IP' set up by IP Inclusive).
"Despite this great progress, the gender demographic is still skewed towards men, both across the IP legal profession as well as in many of the key sectors in which we work, such as life sciences and telecoms… I'm lucky to work for four incredibly talented female partners in Fieldfisher's patent litigation team, which sits within the firm's IP department. My last case involved working with a mostly-female group of scientists who had developed a lifesaving vaccine. Safe to say my personal experience has been very inspiring from a diversity perspective."
Hannah Smith-Willis (Associate, IP and Trademark Protection and Enforcement, London)
"There are so many, very talented and inspiring women in IP, who I hope, will be the role-models we need to encourage the continued development and engagement of all in the IP industry".
Nicole Jadeja (IP and Trademark Protection and Enforcement Partner, Sector Group Co-Head, Life Sciences. London)
The challenge for everyone in the sector, including Fieldfisher, is to continue this conversation every day. It is important that we work towards an even-more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive and progress.
At the firm, we are addressing this challenge with initiatives like our Balanced Pipeline programme and our I-Plus programme, which was recently shortlisted for "Best Workplace Initiative" for the forthcoming The Lawyer Awards.