Male life scientists in academia patent at a higher rate than their female colleagues, though the gap may be shrinking. Investigators from the University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard Business School looked at groups of life scientists and their patenting histories and found that in the most recently graduated group studied - individuals receiving their PhDs between 1986 and 1995 - men patented 1.8 times as often as women. This compares with 4.4 times more in the group graduating between 1967 and 1975. The research was published in Science.(313:665-7, Aug. 4, 2006).

"Given that women will soon reach upwards of 50% of life scientists in academia and industry, the idea that you would leave over half your ideas sitting on a shelf unpatented seems highly inefficient and inequitable," says coauthor Fiona Murray, an assistant professor of management of technology innovation & entrepreneurship at...

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