To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, members of our Women in IP committee have been gathering and posting quotes from a whole range of IP professionals, addressing this year’s #EachforEqual theme. We asked our contributors what they hoped to do to help forge a more gender equal world: you can read their answers below. Do also check out the Women in IP LinkedIn group for more quotes, pictures, and other discussions among the Women in IP community.
We hope you’re inspired by these quotes; please feel free to add your own thoughts and comments.
Meanwhile, huge thanks to Women in IP committee members Sarah Kostiuk-Smith (Mewburn Ellis) for coordinating this campaign on LinkedIn, and Lucy Samuels (Gill Jennings & Every) for the associated tweets from @WomeninIPI – and of course to all the contributors.
Isobel Barry, Women in IP committee member; senior associate and patent attorney at Carpmaels & Ransford
“To help forge a more gender equal world, I pledge to continue to educate myself about the issues faced by women in other diverse and minority groups, and the struggles that have gone before us. I hope this will help me to be an effective ally and advocate for others, which I believe is essential for reaching our goals. As the wonderful Audre Lorde wrote: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.‘”
Andrea Brewster, Lead Executive Officer of IP Inclusive
“What do I hope to build for the future? – A world where women don’t have to adapt to be valued at work, but rather, where their work adapts to value them as they are.
When a woman and a man do something differently, let’s stop asking how we can help the woman improve, and instead explore the benefits that the difference could bring.
Many women of my generation succeeded by becoming more like the men we wanted to impress. We changed all manner of things in order to fit in, in a world that had not been designed for us, that sometimes didn’t even see us. We no longer need to do that. We’ve proven ourselves now, and we know we can do better still if we’re allowed to be ourselves.
True gender equality does not mean a convergence of gender traits; it means a value system that accommodates them all.”
Tania Clark, President of CITMA; partner at Withers & Rogers
“Your voice is your most important tool – use it and be heard!”
Kingsley Egbuonu, Co-lead of the IP & ME committee; IP law & practice research editor at Managing IP
“Everyone, myself included, should play their part in ensuring equality and respect in the workplace and wider society. International Women’s Day, which should be every day, serves as a reminder to be open-minded, learn about other people’s struggles or challenges, and value the contributions of everyone. I’m impressed with what so many individuals and firms are doing (and saying) about diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Keep it up!”
The Finnegan team
This joint contribution came from Women in IP committee member Yelena Morozova and her colleagues Victoria Barker, Sanam Habib and Maeve O’Flynn.
“As reported in the McKinsey Women in the Workplace report 2019, 73% of women and 59% of men have experienced at least one type of microaggression in the workplace. One such microaggression is being interrupted or spoken over, with women being more likely to be interrupted – by both men and women.
Not all interruptions are negative, and co-operative interruptions may help the speaker to make their point heard. These include asking the speaker for clarification or providing a word or phrase the speaker was looking for. However, intrusive interruptions (such as taking over the floor, changing the topic etc) undermine the speaker. That’s why ourEachforEqual pledge is to challenge intrusive interruptions, ensuring that everybody’s voice is heard.“
Susi Fish, Co-lead of the Women in IP committee; partner and patent attorney at Boult Wade Tennant
“How will I help forge a gender equal world? This is always changing, but includes:
- By challenging my own and others beliefs and biases, both conscious and unconscious.
- By bringing my children (a boy and a girl) up to understand that they are not defined by their genders, but by their skills/abilities/passions.
- By attending events that will help me learn more about diversity and inclusivity.
- By supporting other women; mentoring them and sponsoring them where appropriate.
- By reading books/articles and reports to further my knowledge of the diversity and inclusivity space.
- By being an ally to other minorities, so that in the future there is true and full integration, true inclusivity.
- By being aware of when I am not doing enough of the above, and making time to do them.”
Karen Genuardi, IP Ability committee member; Head of People at AA Thornton
“IP Ability recognises the challenges and rewards associated with caring responsibilities, which disproportionately affect women. We will promote learning and understanding of carer responsibilities to the benefit of all IP professionals.” – A fitting reminder that #EachforEqual involves recognising the other responsibilities people may have.
Sarah Kostiuk-Smith, Women in IP committee member; partner and patent attorney at Mewburn Ellis
“I firmly believe that, despite recent progress, there is still so much untapped potential in the world.
I am fortunate to live in a country where childhood education is universal. Nonetheless, we still see under-representation in certain technological areas, for example women and girls in STEM, and the reasons for this are complex. In some parts of the world, many girls are denied even the opportunity to go to school.
We face profound challenges in the world, and the need for scientific solutions is ever-present. By encouraging and empowering everyone to reach their full potential, we will be better-placed as a society to face those challenges head on.
That’s why my #EachforEqual pledge for International Women’s Day is to continue to raise awareness about female representation in STEM careers and as inventors on patent applications.”
Richard Mair, President of CIPA
“Looking at CIPA’s Presidential Board I am always amazed that somehow we came right through the 20th Century without a woman President. What a waste of ability and experience that implies. In the 21st Century we have done much better, with four female Presidents and a fifth to follow me. I am particularly pleased that I am both preceded and succeeded by women as Presidents.”
Rebecca O’Kelly-Gillard, Senior Associate at Bird & Bird
“Bird & Bird strives to make our work environment as inclusive as possible for all of our colleagues and we are proud that our award winning Women’s Development Program kick-started and is at the core of our D&I initiatives. We want to honour that commitment in the broader community and so it was a privilege to host IP Inclusive’s Women in IP annual meeting at our offices on Wednesday, 5 February. It was a fascinating night and the support of our male allies in attendance showed that an equal world is an enabled world.”
Kate O’Rourke, former President of CITMA; Head of Trademarks at Mewburn Ellis
“Revisiting the UN Population Fund ‘Ten actions for a more equal world’ reminded me that gender amplifies the vast inequalities throughout the world. We must therefore continue lobbying to ensure that the UK upholds the rights of women to work, education and health, and supports services such as childcare, to enable women to enter or remain in paid employment. On a more personal level, I am delighted to support the work of IP Inclusive in ensuring that gender is no barrier to success in the IP community.”
Marianne Privett, Co-Chair of the IP Ability committee; partner and patent attorney at AA Thornton
“I recognise that neurodiverse women are often misdiagnosed and will support women seeking a correct diagnosis and greater understanding.”
Francesca Rivers, Co-Chair of the IP Ability committee; solicitor at Cancer Research Technology
“Anxiety disorders and depression affect more women than men, and are often poorly understood. IP Ability will promote talking and learning about mental health, and the small changes that can make a big difference. Let’s break down stigma together.”
Professor Gwilym Roberts, Honorary Secretary of CIPA; Chairman of Kilburn & Strode
“I think in these divisive political times the need actively to seek genuine equality is more important than ever. We should grab awareness opportunities like IWD and use them to ensure that those who aren’t there yet on equality look up and listen; then we need to act on that awareness at the individual, enterprise and institutional level.”
Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury, Chair of IPReg
“Recognising the full contribution that everyone can each make, being themselves, and being respected for who they are, is as important in the world of IP as it is in the world as a whole. IP can and must be a leader in ensuring this can happen.”
Debra Smith, Director, IP Ability committee member; director and patent attorney at Mayfin IP Limited
“Disabled people commonly face employment barriers – being a woman magnifies these. Having MS and being a wheelchair user need not be a bar to a successful career in IP. Flexible working is more than a perk, it helps level the playing field: let’s promote and embrace it.”
Emily Teesdale, Women in IP committee member; partner and patent attorney at Abel & Imray
“I really try to challenge my assumptions and biases. For example, I correct myself when calling the examiner a “he” if I haven’t actually checked their gender. I try to not make generalisations about what people might like to do or how they do it. I find it interesting and scary that these assumptions still exist (even for myself as a female partner and patent attorney), and it is harder than it sounds to stop yourself from making them. However, I feel it is really important to pause, reflect and think again whenever you find you have done so.
I strongly believe that only by building a world where people, no matter what their gender, are accepted and appreciated for who they are and what they can do, without reference or comparison to a gender-norm, can we have a future that is truly equal.
On a more immediate note, we are supporting Forward (the leading African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls) and you can go to our JustGiving page here if you wish to donate.”
Hazel Thorpe, Senior Patent Examiner, IPO; Chair of the IPO Women’s Inclusive Network (WIN)
“I hope to help forge a more equal world by:
- Challenging gender perceptions and casual sexism
- Promoting menopause support and awareness
- Supporting career development, especially women in STEM”
Jennifer Unsworth, IP Inclusive Midlands Network lead; Senior Attorney at Vault IP
“My pledge for International Women’s Day 2020 is to continue to be an advocate for women working in STEM, whether as inventors or as intellectual property professionals.”