FIGURE 2-1 Percentage of females in academic life science positions, 1973-2008.1

SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 and Science and Engineering Indicators 2012.

In discussing women’s entrepreneurship in the academic life sciences, Smith-Doerr cited Fiona Murray’s findings on this topic: “within academic life sciences, women’s entrepreneurship is evident in the form of faculty founding companies, patenting, inclusion on scientific advisory boards, and industry co-authorship.”2 She emphasized that these entrepreneurship-driven faculty members tend to be full professors. Therefore, in light of the tenure gap exhibited in Figure 2.1, Smith-Doerr suggested that biotechnology entrepreneurship tends to be male-dominated, so that of those academics who become entrepreneurs, only 4.7 percent of company founders and 5.6 percent of scientific advisory board members are women.

Looking beyond the company founder and scientific advisory board level, Smith-Doerr researched the participation and equity of females in biotechnology firms relative to established multi-national companies and academic environments. In this context, she briefly highlighted the influence of unconscious and implicit biases. Current research demonstrates the need for women to be more productive than men to achieve the same employment stature, as well as the importance of work-life balance. This, then, led her to explicitly focus on the role of organizational structure and its function in understanding the gender gap. Specifically, Smith-Doerr categorized life science organizations as either “hierarchical” organizations, such as multinational pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions, or “networking” organizations, such as biotechnology, entrepreneur-driven firms. Distinctions between these organizations arise in their communication models and employee interaction procedures. Hierarchical organizations tend to follow strict rules that are strongly influenced by the ranks of the interacting members,


1 Data abstracted from Science and Engineering Indicator 2006 appendix table 5-23, and Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 appendix table 5-13. Data points for 2006 and 2008 were added in Figure 2-1 to data presented at the workshop.

2 Murray, F., Graham, L. (2007). Buying and selling science: gender differences in the market for commercial science, Industrial and Corporate Change, 16, 657-689.

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