Patent Law, Copyright Law, and the Girl Germs Effect

By Bartow, Ann | St. John's Law Review, October 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Patent Law, Copyright Law, and the Girl Germs Effect


Bartow, Ann, St. John's Law Review


INTRODUCTION

Inventors1 pursue patents and authors2 receive copyrights. No special education is required for either endeavor, and nothing precludes a person from being both an author and an inventor. Inventors working on patentable industrial projects geared toward commercial exploitation tend to be scientists or engineers. Authors, with the exception of those writing computer code,3 tend to be educated or trained in the creative arts, such as visual art, performance art, music, dance, acting, creative writing, film making, and architectural drawing. There is a well-warranted societal supposition that most of the inventors of patentable inventions are male.4 Assumptions about the genders of the authors of remunerative commercially exploited copyrights may be less rigid. women authors are more broadly visible than women inventors across most of the typical categories of copyrightable works.

Yet, whether one considers patentable inventions or copyrightable works, the vast majority of the very profitable ones are both originated and controlled by men.5 This causes a host of negative consequences for women. They start and run businesses at much lower rates than men and rarely reach elite leadership levels in the corporate world or within high-profile artistic or cultural communities.6 They are perceived as less competent, less dedicated, and less hard working, and suffer from a lack of female mentors and female colleagues.7 Women are lied to during financial negotiations more than men8 and earn less than men in equivalent positions.9 Women control only a tiny portion of the world's wealth.10 Though female students outperform male students in almost every context and at almost every level of education,11 and even seek postdegree job-related training in greater numbers than men,12 this has not helped women to produce and control patentable inventions or to author and own valuable copyrighted works in numbers comparable to men.

In the United States, the majority of college graduates generally, and arts and humanities graduates particularly, are women.13 American men, though they attend colleges and universities in significantly smaller numbers than women, continue to dominate the so-called STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-disciplines.14 These gender disparities are observable when women and men first begin preparing for their careers. Beginning in middle and high school and continuing through college and graduate school, males are more likely to major in science while females are more likely to major in creative arts:

Even though the [New York City] Department of Education has created special programs designed to attract more girls to its schools that specialize in math and science, boys continue to outnumber girls in these schools by a wide-margin. And for the middle and high schools that concentrate on music, fine arts, dance and theatre, there are no such citywide programs designed to attract more boys. Consequently, girls outnumber boys at arts schools by an even greater margin.

An analysis of gender ratios in these specialized schools over the last five years shows that math and science-focused schools are on average 58 percent male and 42 percent female. These percentages have remained virtually unchanged since the 2010 school year. Schools that specialize in the arts, on the other hand, are now 64 percent female and 36 percent male, a disparity that has grown slightly larger over the last five years.15

This gendered career preparation phenomenon is international.16 So is the fact that while the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields is usually viewed as a problem that needs addressing, the underrepresentation of men in creative arts fields almost never is. Rarely indeed does anyone express concerns about a dearth of men in the copyrightable arts pipeline. It is as if there is at least subconscious recognition of the possibility that men need to work together in large numbers to continue to dominate STEM-focused environments, and the reality that men can, and usually do, rise to the top of creative fields even if the majority of their peers and competitors are females with superior educational credentials. …

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Patent Law, Copyright Law, and the Girl Germs Effect
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