Investigating the Intersection of Intellectual Property and Gender at WCL

Nearly seven years ago, my colleague Josh Sarnoff and I came to WCL to join a pioneering collaboration between IP scholars Peter Jaszi and Christine Farley and feminist and clinical scholar Ann Shalleck to help them launch one of the nation’s first intellectual property law clinics.  One of the natural, wonderful and wacky by-products of this intense working group and its pooled expertise in intellectual property and gender issues was the idea for a symposium series focusing on the largely unexplored intersection of intellectual property and gender.
 
With the help of our good friend, feminist and IP scholar Ann Bartow, who was visiting at WCL that first year, we drew up a preliminary list of all the scholars we knew to be working in gender or IP and who might potentially interested in the intersection.  We invited them to our first informal workshop in the Spring of 2004 and called it "IP/Gender:The Unmapped Connections." We asked participants to come and help us brainstorm ways to bridge the two fields. We spent two days discussing why we cared about this intersection, various theoretical frameworks, the gendered issues arising within larger IP controversies and came up with topics for future inquiry. Some of the participants also discussed some very early writing concepts—not even yet really works in progress-- in our first public program .

And over the next few years we gathered each spring.  We also reached out to new colleagues to expand the ongoing project.  It soon became clear that the mapping was underway, so we changed the title of the annual gathering to "IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections."  We also extended invitations to scholars, activists and artists abroad to further help us understand the dimensions of this intersection as it plays out in other cultures.  We  soon began to see similar projects sprouting up elsewhere.  

Last Friday we hosted our fifth annual "IP/Gender:Mapping the Connections" sponsored by our Programs on Information Justice and the Intellectual Property and Women and the Law and our Journal on Gender and Social Policy.  At panels entitled "Questioning Assumptions", "Interrogating Theory" and "Engendering Practice" a wide range of scholars touching on a diverse range of topics helped us to continue this mapping.  Through the years we believe we have succeeded in creating a welcoming space for both gender and IP scholars to explore this intersection.  As demonstrated by the richness of last Friday's panels, the Gender Journal issues devoted to this topic and  the many new projects underway in this area, the mapping of these connections is clearly on the move .   

For a webcast or podcast of the day's panels, see -

http://www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/go/news/wcl-hosts-the-fifth-annual-ip/gender-mapping-the-connections  

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