February 10th, industry leaders, governmental agencies, and university representatives gathered in Austin, Texas for the Association of Technology Transfer University Managers (AUTM) 2019 Annual Meeting. It was clear that the leadership of AUTM were intentional about including individuals in the tech transfer space that were successful who also happened to be people of color and women.
While its VC panel featured one Israili gentleman, a black gentleman, a woman, their colleague, one Caucasian gentleman had this to say of the venture capital space:
This panel is great, but 1% of VCs are black, less than 7% are women. It’s not just about what you invest in as a VC firm but also the firm’s responsibility for people breaking into the boardroom. – Jim Flynn Managing Partner, Deerfield Management @AUTM Plenary #AUTM2019 pic.twitter.com/qe3lqo1Meg
— Keisha KT Johnson (@WorkLifePurpose) February 12, 2019
This meeting was not simply intent on “checking boxes,” around diversity, however. Its keynote speaker, Ayanna Howard, the School Chair for Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech had important thoughts on designing for the audiences.
As a researcher, you need to bring in users before you’re ready. We all want things to be just right, but by the time you’re ready to adopt users to your technology it might be too difficult or expensive to fix the bugs.
– @robotsmarts giving Closing Plenary & Keynote #AUTM2019 pic.twitter.com/Y20WwMgs70
— Keisha KT Johnson (@WorkLifePurpose) February 13, 2019
The Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property who is also the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an engineer and attorney specializing in intellectual property provided his perspective on diversity as well.
It is critical that we broaden the innovation ecosystem. We cannot afford to leave behind broad swaths of our demographics: women, minorities, the underprivileged. We’re leaving a lot of Einsteins on the table and we need systems to support that growth – Andrei Iancu #AUTM2019 pic.twitter.com/im1lGtiPYv
— Keisha KT Johnson (@WorkLifePurpose) February 11, 2019