While compiling a database of life scientists participating in biotech start-up companies since the 1970s, Toby E. Stuart of Harvard Business School in Boston gave a start when he ran across the name Nancy. It stood out, the sociologist says, because it was the only obviously female name among the first 70 entries. They discovery prompted him and two of his colleagues at other business schools to investigate additional gender gaps among life scientists in academia. The researchers found a doozie: men and women with potentially money making patents.
The trio randomly chose 4,200 scientists from the life science fields most likely to foster commercial spin-offs and then examined 30 years of patent records.