Two Women Received Nobel Prize for the Development of a Method for Genome Editing — Lorraine Marchand

I recently read an interesting article Nobel Prize in Chemistry Is Awarded for Crispr Gene-Editing Technology in the Wall Street Journal, about France’s Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer A. Doudna. The two women were instrumental in creating this crucial moment in history — the first time ever The Nobel Prize was split between two women. Only five other women had ever received the award since its inception in 1901, bringing the total to seven out of 185 individuals.

The two scientists discovered a powerful tool for genome editing that has enabled relatively quick and easy modification of the building blocks of life and promises new drugs for a range of diseases.

The inspiring story of Emmanuelle and Jennifer, got me thinking about one of the most important chapters in my upcoming book — The Innovation Mindset. In this chapter, I delve into the unique challenges faced by women innovators.

Let me begin by presenting some statistics. The sad reality is that only 5% of patents are held by women. Only 25% of top innovation firms are led by women and women account for 20% of Fortune 500 chief innovation officers. The numbers of women in science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) are underrepresented and there is a 16% wage gender wage gap among STEM professionals. Half as many women as men are likely to start their own business and 95% of women who do start their own business fail within a year because they can’t secure funding and other necessary support. Why is innovation so challenging for women?

In this chapter of my book, I explore the stories behind famous and not so famous women innovators and examine why women find it difficult to patent their ideas, raise funding for their innovations, and launch and maintain successful businesses. I share interviews with women innovators in both small companies and corporations as well as attorneys, investors, policymakers, and other stakeholders who see the valuable role women innovators can play in society.

The recent recognition received by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna is proof that women are breaking the glass ceiling. But there is still so much we can to close the gap on disparities and encourage more women in innovation and entrepreneurship.

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