Disentangling effort and performance: A renewed look at gender differences in commercializing medical school research

Jeannette A. Colyvas, Kaisa Snellman, Janet Bercovitz, Maryann Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Recently, questions about gender gaps in science have extended to academic technology transfer. Using systematic data on US medical school faculty, we capture both behavior and performance, examining the hypothesis that women are less likely than men to commercialize their research findings. We pooled faculty invention data from ten departments in three Academic Health Centers from 1991 to 1998-a period when patenting had become prevalent and other researchers note that a gender gap was pronounced. Rather than focusing on patenting, we capture the first step in the commercialization process, as well as the subsequent successful licensing of faculty inventions to a company. We find no significant gender differences in the likelihood of reporting inventions or successfully commercializing them. We do find differences in the number of inventions reported, however, with women disclosing fewer inventions than their male counterparts. Our results demonstrate that gender effects are highly conditioned by employment context and resources. We attribute differences in our findings with regards to gender to the use of outcome measures that capture both behavior and performance, and the inclusion of a more extensive set of control variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-489
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Academic entrepreneurship, university performance metrics
  • Biomedical innovation
  • Biomedicine
  • Gender
  • Life sciences
  • University technology transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting
  • Engineering(all)


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