Women's History Month: An Interview with Elizabeth Dougherty

As we continue in celebrating Women’s History Month, Elizabeth Dougherty, Eastern Regional Outreach Director for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and NAI Board Member, shares with us the importance of diverse perspectives in innovation and offers suggestions of how mentorship can help support women in the invention ecosystem.

Q: What is the importance of having diverse and unique perspectives in the innovation and invention ecosystem?

A: Diversity is key to success. It leads to stronger teams and better products and services by expanding the pool of available viewpoints and ideas from which to draw. Encouraging women to participate in STEM fields is not an issue of competing with men or debating whether men or women are better in these fields; it is about recognizing and accepting differences and the success that diversity can bring. The world needs more individuals in STEM to solve the challenges facing our world today and in the future. Women make up more than half of the world’s population, yet the vast majority of STEM positions are held by men. It is a given that an incredible amount of talent is going untapped and unrecognized. Women bring creativity, vision, and talent to any equation they participate in, so we need to do everything we can to make them part of the equation.

Q: What suggestions do you have on how mentorship could help support attracting, engaging, and retaining women inventors in the innovation and invention ecosystem?

A: Mentorship is invaluable to encouraging, empowering, and maintaining women in the invention and innovation ecosystem. Mentoring builds necessary visible and invisible support networks which can carry an individual across the chasm of self-doubt, provide a sounding board for insights, and serve as a cheerleader for all of life’s successes and failures. For women in invention and innovation, no matter what level they are at in their career, a mentor can be beneficial. One should keep in mind that mentors come in all shapes and sizes; they can be formal or informal, situational or general. Don’t be afraid to seek out a mentor. Mentors are generally flattered to be asked! And don’t be afraid to be yourself with your mentor. They can’t help the real you if they don’t get to know the real you!

To read about Elizabeth’s work, visit: http://ow.ly/QQv250NreBT

The USPTO’s Journeys of Innovation articles feature the stories of inspirational women innovators. Read their stories here: http://ow.ly/AMoi50NreBW

Interested in seeing mentoring programs available or want to start your own? Visit: http://ow.ly/AyVF50NreBV