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9 November 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided significant challenges, but it has also presented a wealth of opportunities when it comes to sustainability and our global energy footprint. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in changing hearts and minds with regards to sustainability.
Time and time again, it is increasingly evident that women in leadership positions are pushing for more sustainable ways of working and are becoming increasingly more successful at doing so. Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel’s approach to the pandemic have demonstrated this. However, there remains a significant gender gap and lack of inclusion of women’s voices in Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) generally.
The benefits of having more women leading the cause of sustainability is undisputed. Women around the globe are spearheading the world’s view on sustainability, social justice, and environmental issues, allowing us to truly challenge our structures and ways of thinking, and look to build a more inclusive, green, and progressive future. They are helping develop a more sustainable and inclusive society.
At Withers & Rogers these two ambitions collide. As an IP firm we are huge advocates of both innovation and helping society progress. Diversity and inclusivity underpins our strategic intent. IP as a profession has much to do to improve diversity and inclusivity and at Withers & Rogers we are keen to actively address this.
Inspiring stories ignite imagination which is critical to innovative thinking and ideas, and we are constantly striving to find inspiring stories of women at the forefront of green technology. Below are just a few of the many inspiring women working to save the planet.
1. Bernice Dapaah
Bernice Dapaah, is a multi-award winning entrepreneur and innovator in the field of smart mobility systems. Her medium-sized company, Ghana Bamboo Bikes, creates bicycles from a locally available material – bamboo – and encourages the shift toward eco-mobility and integrated transport in Africa and beyond. The idea is a simple one but makes a huge difference in an affordable and sustainable way. Bernice’s story highlights that thinking outside the box just a little can go a long way.
2. Gitanjali Rao
Gitanjali Rao, 11, was horrified upon learning about the continued drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In response, she invented a device using carbon nanotubes and a smartphone app that will allow residents to test their drinking water for lead quickly. For her efforts, she was awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” and was named TIME magazine’s first “Kid of the Year” in 2020.
3. Catia Bastioli
In the 1990’s, Catia Bastioli led a group of Italian scientists to develop biodegradable plastics, starting with shopping bags made from starch. Her company, Novamont, is now one of the world leaders in biodegradable plastics and supplies over 60% of global bioplastics. Catia herself is a prolific inventor, named on around 80 patent families and named as European Inventor of the Year by the European Patent Office in 2007. A true inspiration to female inventors everywhere.
4. Miranda Wang
While still in high school, Miranda and her best friend Jeanny Yao visited a waste processing plant on a school trip that sparked a passion for recycling. They persuaded researchers at a lab in the University of British Columbia to let them work in the lab, and during that time discovered two plastic-eating bacteria in the Fraser River. They went on to establish BioCellection in Silicon Valley, making technologies that transform unrecyclable plastics into materials for a variety of consumer products. In 2018, at the age of 24 years old, Miranda received the UN Environment Program’s Young Champions of the Earth award.
Intellectual Property is critical to helping business ideas become reality. An increasing proportion of patent inventors are female, however according to a UK Intellectual Property Office Report, between 2008 and 2017 the proportion of female inventors worldwide only increased by 6.8% to 12.7%1. Whilst this is a 50% increase it shows that we are still far from where we would like it to be.
Given that there are so many leading women in the world of ESG we hope this will inspire more women to enter into science and technology, contributing to more inspiring stories in the future.
Zoe Bailey, Head of Strategic Operations
Bethan Halliwell, Senior Associate
© Withers & Rogers LLP November 2021
1Gender Profiles in Worldwide Patenting: An analysis of female inventorship (2019), Intellectual Property Office (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/846363/Gender-profiles-in-worldwide-patenting-2019.pdf)