Women’s Role in Biotechnology Research: The Case of Mexico

  • Humberto Merritt
  • Maria Pilar M. Perez-Hernandez


It is widely recognized that women face a number of gender-related barriers to succeed in science and technology. Specifically, most women seeking to pursue an academic career need to overcome not only professional hurdles but also personal and social obstacles. Although women have made strides in closing the gender gap, especially in life sciences, many still face professional exclusion. In Mexico, biotechnology is one of the few fields where women scientists participate in large numbers. The School of Biological Sciences of the National Polytechnic Institute (ENCB-IPN) is one of the country’s most prestigious academic institutions where women enrolled in life sciences have had a long tradition to teaching and carrying out scientific research. In this chapter, we explore the involvement of female scientists from ENCB in patenting and commercializing biotechnology research. By drawing on the Espacenet international patent database we were able to identify how these women scientists interact with their male colleagues. Empirical findings suggest that most female scientists from ENCB tend to patent in collaboration with male scientists, whereas only a handful of them patent alone. We also report how they deal with this situation and what the challenges for pursuing an entrepreneurial vocation in the Mexican scientific milieu are.



This paper arises out of research funded by the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN) of Mexico (Grant No. SIP-20140881). Research assistance from Juan Jesús González-Ávila is also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Humberto Merritt
    • 1
  • Maria Pilar M. Perez-Hernandez
    • 2
  1. 1.Social Sciences Research CenterNational Polytechnic Institute of MexicoCiudad de MexicoMexico
  2. 2.National Polytechnic Institute of MexicoCentro de Incubación de Empresas de Base Tecnológica CIEBT IPNCDMXMexico

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