It’s a MAD World: Membership and Diversity, with a SciTech Edge

Vol. 10 No. 1

By

Ruth Hill Bro chairs the Membership and Diversity (MAD) Committee of the ABA Section of Science & Technology Law and served as the 200809 Section Chair. She can be reached at ruth.hill.bro@gmail.com.

Welcome to “It’s a MAD World: Membership and Diversity, with a SciTech Edge,” a new column designed to spotlight membership and diversity-related topics, resources, and opportunities for SciTech members.

This first column focuses on diversity and inclusion (D&I), which have long been a part of what makes SciTech great. SciTech’s MAD (Membership and Diversity) Committee, whose roots go back to 1996, is continually on the lookout for ways for SciTech to better serve its members and the profession and advance SciTech’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Below we highlight some of these ways as well as special opportunities for our members to shine and get involved.

 

D&I Starts With Our Leaders

Many who get involved in SciTech say that it is the people and the welcoming atmosphere that keep them coming back. Together, we explore unprecedented scientific and technological changes that raise legal and policy issues that are not only important, but also important to get right.

SciTech’s commitment to diversity starts at the top, in our leadership, which is where the commitment must begin to set an inclusive tone for all members:

  • The officer slate for the 2013–14 bar year includes two new women leaders, so that five of the eight voting officers are women.
  • Two of SciTech’s three new Council members are women, including one woman of color.
  • Since 2000, more than half (8 of 13) of our Section Chairs have been diverse. Three of those Chairs have also been members of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA); two received the Spirit of Excellence Award from the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.

Diversity and inclusion were also a focus of my remarks (as SciTech’s MAD Committee Chair) and those of our keynote speaker Loria Yeadon at the Section of Science & Technology Law Luncheon on August 9, 2013, at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, which was attended by SciTech leaders and other members. Loria Yeadon, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Intellectual Ventures and Founder of Intellectual Ventures’ Senior Women’s Community, highlighted conversations that are now occurring in the C-suite/senior executive level that are relevant to SciTech members: (1) the C-suite now recognizes that inventions are not just product differentiators or enablers, but also stand-alone products that can be freely sold and monetized; and (2) the C-suite is also discussing diversity and inclusion (and if clients are not discussing this, they should be). Loria shared the following statistics:

  • Partners. In 2012, the percentage of women promoted to partner slightly increased to more than 32 percent, but 13 of the top 200 law firms promoted no women. There also was a $66K gender difference among equity partners.
  • Associates. In 2012, the number of women associates decreased for the third straight year. Women’s salaries are lower than men’s salaries (e.g., second-year women made $89K, while second-year men made $105K), and this disparity grows over time.
  • Law students. The percentage of women entering law school has been decreasing since 2002, even though many more women than men are graduating with bachelor’s degrees (57% vs. 43% in 2010).
  • Start-ups in Silicon Valley. Although women earn more than 50 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and almost 50 percent of the PhDs, women comprise only three percent of tech companies and are rarely on management teams.
  • Privately held tech companies. Only 20 percent of companies have at least one woman in the C-suite; 6.5 percent have a female CEO, and 1.3 percent were founded by a woman. Yet private tech companies led by women are more capital-efficient, achieve 35 percent higher returns on investment, and generate 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies when venture-backed.

Loria noted that these statistics are troubling and raise significant pipeline issues.

SciTech’s Stand Out Initiative: The Pipeline and Beyond

SciTech launched its Stand Out initiative to engage SciTech members, enhance SciTech’s substantive content and member benefits, and build the Section’s leadership pipeline. This initiative provides leadership opportunities that will especially help young lawyers and law students (who tend to be even more diverse than SciTech’s membership as a whole) and build their skills, resumes, and connections in one of the worst legal job markets in decades. SciTech’s MAD Committee members work with their assigned leadership contacts in more than 25 substantive committees focused on the hottest topics in science and technology law to identify leadership positions in each committee. Opportunities include serving as an update editor, a newsletter editor, or a social media contributor.

The Stand Out initiative is designed to make it easy for SciTech members to get involved, rise to leadership roles, and connect with others who share similar interests. We give wings to those who have great ideas and the ability and drive to see them through. Interested SciTech members should complete a quick survey at www.ambar.org/scitech/standout to indicate interest areas, contact information, and background. Why settle for blending in, when you can stand out in SciTech?

Other Resources for Members

SciTech continually strives to support the outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts of the four ABA Goal III diversity commissions, which are focused on racial and ethnic diversity, women, sexual orientation and gender identity, and disability rights. Each of these commissions provides helpful resources for SciTech members:

ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/racial_ethnic_diversity.html

ABA Commission on Women in the Profession

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/women.html

ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/sexual_orientation.html

ABA Commission on Disability Rights

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/disabilityrights.html

I’ve highlighted three new resources below that will be of particular interest to SciTech members:

Legal Expert Author Pool (LEAP)

The ABA Center for Racial & Ethnic Diversity is offering a new and easy way for diverse lawyers to introduce themselves and their practices to ABA publications seeking authors. The Legal Expert Author Pool (LEAP) initiative maintains a pool of diverse authors who have the expertise and willingness to write for ABA publications. For more information, or to sign up for LEAP, go to www.ambar.org/LEAP.

Please also check out SciTech’s webpage on “Why You Should Write for SciTech”: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/science_technology/writeforscitech.html.

Diverse Speakers Directory

The ABA Center for Racial & Ethnic Diversity has also launched a Diverse Speakers Directory for lawyers interested in speaking and moderating opportunities. The database provides a national clearinghouse of legal experts comprised of racial and ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and/or members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. For more information, or to sign up, go to www.ambar.org/DiverseSpeakers.

ABA Gender Equity Task Force

2012–13 ABA President Laurel Bellows created the ABA Gender Equity Task Force in August 2012 to address gender equity issues in the legal profession and society. Chaired by Roberta Liebenberg (former Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession), the Task Force has 20 members and six working groups to address key issues and initiatives, including pay equity, the creation of a woman-to-woman business referral network, and a women’s general counsel summit. Find out more at www.americanbar.org/groups/women/gender_equity_task_force.html.

The Task Force has produced many key resources, including the following publications (available for download at no charge) at www.americanbar.org/groups/women/gender_equity_task_force/task_force_publications.html.

  • Closing the Gap: A Road Map for Achieving Gender Pay Equity in Law Firm Partner Compensation
  • Power of the Purse: How General Counsel Can Impact Pay Equity for Women Lawyers
  • Toolkit for Gender Equity in Partner Compensation
  • What You Need to Know about Negotiating Compensation

SciTech is MAD about diversity and inclusion and will continue to work with leaders, members, the ABA, and the profession to achieve our goals. We will be adding more resources under the Diversity tab in the left column on the Section’s homepage at www.ambar.org/scitech. We welcome the opportunity to work with you and share what we call the SciTech Edge.

Please contact me at ruth.hill.bro@gmail.com or 630-926-1273 if you have any questions or want to discuss ways to get more out of your SciTech membership.

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