Making passions a reality

26 Oct 2005 | Network Updates
Wendy A. Choi, is a partner with intellectual property law firm Woodcock Washburn, focuses on US and foreign patent prosecution, transactions and licensing.

Wendy Choi, intellectual property lawyer

Wendy A. Choi is a partner with intellectual property law firm Woodcock Washburn. She focuses on US and foreign patent prosecution, transactions and licensing.

What's your favourite thing/least favourite thing about your job?

As a patent attorney supporting clients in the pharmaceutical, chemical and biotech industries, the thing I like most about my job is working with individuals who are on the cutting edge of science discovery. I truly believe that the inventors with whom I work will someday find cures for human suffering (like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, malaria, AIDS) and improve the quality of life (depression). As I tell my 9-year old son, it is my privilege to play a small part and to help these scientists make their passions a reality.

As a patent attorney, the thing I like least about my job is the inability to predict and explain the sometimes illogical changes in the laws that negatively impact my clients ability to implement their business strategies and reap the reward for their innovations and efforts.

How is science business - i.e. the business of science - changing for women?

Over the past fifteen years, I have seen the business of science change. There is a growing "force" of women in the science field and particularly in the field of patent law. I think much of this is the growing number of females who are technically trained for careers beyond teaching. We now see many diverse careers in science, such as, for example, patent attorneys and regulatory managers. I also see a number of strong female role models in the highest positions in the business world. I did not see this personally when I first began as a scientist.

What are the top three trends affecting women in the business of science?

  1. Greater regulatory scrutiny (opening more doors for females)
  2. More female role models in critical positions. I see many more female project leaders and managers than 15 years ago
  3. Greater flexibility in the workplace to permit a family-work balance

What advice would you give to young women looking to make a career in the business of science?

Be open to all types of careers in science – not just traditional careers – including law (patent, regulatory, FDA), engineering, marketing.

What are the big ideas that affect your work at present?

Being highly competent is not enough. You must be creative and think outside of the box. You must be action-oriented, strategic (it's not enough to think about today – you must plan/predict the future) and think globally.

Are there any differences in the ability of women to get ahead in different science-based industries?

It seems that females have a stronger foothold on the biotech and computer industries than in more traditional fields of science.

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