The Indicator from Planet Money - The Inclusion Payoff

Women and non-white men are gaining ground when it comes to science and engineering degrees, but not when it comes to patents.

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everyone is Cardiff. This is indicator from planet money today. I'm joined by an old friend of the shows Economist Lisa Cooke of Michigan State University because Lisa is just released a study that offers new ideas for how to make the US economy more Innovative more inventive by first making it more inclusive Lisa back to the show paper for our listeners here because it starts with a mystery with a kind of puzzle. So you discovered that the share of college and graduate degrees in science and engineering that goes to women has been going up to the last few decades and it hasn't quite caught up to the share that's going to man is not 50/50 but still the share of those degrees that women get has been going up and of course these degrees in science and engineering. Those are the degrees that we use sociate with people who were going to invent new things new technologies and yet there has not been similar progress.

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In the sheriff patents for new inventions that end up going to women and so you looked at that and then separately you also looked at the same trends for African-American women and men and you found the same thing share of science and engineering degrees going up Sheriff patents not keeping up so break down this puzzle for it, please it was remarkable that women and African-American hat and caught up to the general population as they had with respect to degrees in the science and engineering field. So let me just give you a couple of Statistics so are our 235 patents per million for the. That I was looking at in this paper and that's where everybody in the patent date. But now please look at just women it turned out to be about forty fathoms per million and then if we look at it forever

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Taps per million, that's a huge gap show the puzzle was how did it happen what is happening with respect to moving from the beginning of the patent process that education to the end of the process to participating and invention participating on Patton teams, and then commercializing that invention. This was the big puzzle that led to this entire research agenda from getting the degrees in the training to then participating on the teams in and working in the companies that invent things and they get those patents. So I get the natural follow-up question is what are those barriers had to do with workplace climate still the case so women and underrepresented minorities are not always invited to participate on Patton teams at the same rate that their counterparts are.

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Be kept out of the circles of capital for example that it might take to start an invention or innovation. But at the commercialization stage the final stage of innovation where where invention is commercialized. This is the one that has the the biggest Gap in your listeners. So of all the venture capital investment in startups only 7% goes to companies that include a woman founder and less than 1% goes to companies did include an African American woman found her. That's as of 2014. So there are these huge disparities and it suggests that there is a lot of talent out there that is not being matched to the jobs were that Talent could optimally do the best work and Lisa. This is also deprives the rest of us of the inventions that these excluded groups would be coming up with

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Write this right because that means Innovative Frontier is not as far out as it could be that we're not creating as many inventions as we could if we had an optimal allocation to let me tell you about one result that I found early in this restart. What I found was that single-sex teams, whether they are male or female we're less productive than mixed-gender teeth. So just by having more diversity on teams and I think we can extend this by race and ethnic group. I think that we could have a lot more invention and innovation in our economy. If we were more open to different types of people being on those teams another question then which is how do we do that? How do we make this part of the economy be Innovation economy more inclusive for these groups that historically been shut out of it Lisa. You've got three proposals and I am going to ask you about those right after a quick break.

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Support for NPR and the following message come from you Studio you Studio securely distributes corporate audio and video content to employees use you Studio to manage your company's public or private podcast drain remotely share meetings in town halls and improve employee communication start your free 30-day trial at the letter U studio.com. We are back with a ideas for how to make the Innovation economy more inclusive and therefore more Innovative. At least it. Let's look at this first idea which has to do with improving how we measure through the inventors themselves are because apparently the date for this is not very good. It's not very good. We don't count who people are race is not recorded in Manhattan data. So I don't like for the small business administration where small businesses provide demographic data on the owners of the businesses say gender race ethnicity.

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We don't come on Thursday that for Pat and this is important because we need to have a benchmark. There is the idea of Congress is considering now, it's based on my previous research and I would urge Congress to support that act and pass it so that we could get an actual count of who is participating in patenting right now to your second idea has to do with reforming the small business administration the SBA and if listeners don't know what the SBA is it's a government agency that helps support entrepreneurs and small-business is through mentoring programs in ranging loans and things like that. So at least it what should the SBA be doing a better job of recruiting participants IE inventors to apply for the programs and this program is meant to promote the commercialization of invention sew in

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Mentoring programs for example in places where there are Tech hubs for example of in Silicon Valley or along Route 128. Will African American inventors are concentrated in Atlanta. And I think that if there were more recruiting of the Super Soaker Lonnie Johnson is base pay for decades and the same is true for Hispanic inventors. They're not necessarily concentrated recruiting might take place so we can match firms and universities to these individual inventors who are in underrepresented minority groups. We could probably get better outcomes with respect to applicants and successful participants in these programs at the FBI has to do with workplace climate in the changes that need to be made there. That sounds like a tough one. What what is it?

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Recommendation for how to make the workplace climate better. I would love that. We see on social media especially now a lot of African American inventors and people working in the tech sector talking about the problems that they have encountered in the sectors that make it less likely that they would participate. Well, how do we get rid of those barriers? Well, I don't have all the answers to your other to study dislike the Kapoor Center. There are ways that we can see workplace climate issues reduced we can make sure that there is less sexual harassment and make sure there is representation at every level of a firm. There should be a bystander training is just a lot that we've learned.

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About diversity that seems as though Tech firms couldn't break. So there's a lot more that can be done to welcome African Americans and women and other races and ethnicities into the Innovation economy. What a pleasure it always has to stay with you. Thank you. Thank you.

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This episode of the indicator was produced by Autumn Barnes. In fact check by Brittany Cronin indicators edited by Patty Hirsch in is a production of NPR.
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