Brooklyn Law Review


People of color and women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in the United States. Through both intentional and unintentional structural barriers, universities continue to lose valuable intellectual resources by perpetuating a lack of gender, racial, and ethnic diversity as people climb the academic ladder. Identifying racial and gender disparities between university campus populations and their patent representation quantifies the qualitatively observed systemic racism and sexism plaguing STEM. Without data quantifying the underrepresentation of women and people of color, specifically when protecting their intellectual property rights, universities cannot show that their programs designed to close these gaps are, in fact, effective. This article fills that space by offering a quantitative analysis of the patent gap between white, male inventors, inventors of color, and female inventors at Ivy League institutions, historically Black colleges or universities (HBCUs), research institutions, and other highly ranked universities in the United States. By comparing the racial and gender representation on university patents to the representation at the university, the data can conclusively demonstrate that intellectual property underrepresentation is rampant within a seemingly equalizing environment, where every student and faculty member theoretically has equal access to university funding and legal representation to obtain patents on their intellectual property. Universities and researchers can use this data to determine whether mentorship, outreach, tenure-track, and funding programs implemented to close racial and gender gaps are effective or simply restorative justice theater. Universities are obligated to pursue programs for practical academic equity, rather than false promises of equal opportunity.