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Survey Reveals Potential Innovation Gap in the U.s.

By MIT News

January 21, 2011



Young women in the United States represent an untapped group of potential inventors, according to the 2011 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index. The latest gauge on the perceptions of invention and innovation focuses on people between the ages of 16 and 25, and shows that women have many characteristics necessary to become inventors. The characteristic women most associate with inventors is creativity, and while 71 percent said they were creative, only 27 percent said they were inventive. Among men, 66 percent said they were creative and 39 percent said they were inventive. Also, 42 percent of women said math and science were their favorite subjects in school, compared with 53 percent for men, and 35 percent said they have a family member working in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).

Lemelson-MIT Invention IndexThe index shows that women have an innate interest in inventive fields, but less than 10 percent are pursuing STEM degrees. "This country needs innovative new programs to stimulate the interest of young men and women in STEM and to challenge them to use their intellect and creativity to invent solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems," says Chad Mirkin, a member of the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. "Women have an enormous amount to offer in this regard, but aren't currently pursuing science or technology fields at a high enough rate."

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