International Women's Day Profile - 2021 Roger T. Hughes Future Leader Award Winner - Meika Ellis
Marked annually on March 8th International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Participation is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and rally for women's equality. This year's campaign theme is ‘Break the Bias,’ whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. In celebration of this day IPIC will highlight prominent women members who are just some of the many incredible women within the IP profession.
Meika Ellis, Associate, Lawyer, Ridout & Maybee LLP, 2021 Roger T. Hughes Future Leader Award Winner
Meika Ellis is an associate at Ridout & Maybee LLP in the firm's Ottawa office. Meika's practice covers most areas of intellectual property law including: prosecution of and litigation matters concerning trademarks, copyright, domain name disputes, emerging technology, and patents.
Meika graduated from the University of Ottawa’s Common Law program. When not taking courses, Meika worked on several law and technology projects including doing work for CIPPIC, and, under professor supervision, researching how emerging technologies fit into Health Canada's existing liability framework. Her primary "job" prior to entering private practice was working with professors and researchers at uOttawa and throughout Africa in the partnership network, Open African Innovation and Research (Open AIR), where she and her colleagues dedicated their research to looking at easing the tensions between intellectual property and access to knowledge throughout the African Continent.
As a member of Gwich'in Fort McPherson Band, Meika is continually looking for opportunities and people to collaborate with to find and understand ways to better serve Indigenous communities, which are often not able to benefit as easily as others from the Western IP system.
Why is equality, diversity, and inclusion important to the IP profession?
Innovation relies on diversity to grow; therefore, IP is inherently a profession that will flourish in diverse environments. If we are to continue pursuing greatness in innovation in Canada, equality, diversity, and inclusion are key in bringing the brightest minds to the table - both on the innovator and IP professional sides.
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the direction in which IPIC's Indigenous Advisory Committee is headed (and I'm not just saying this because I'm answering these questions for IPIC ????. This group truly has built a strong foundation for disseminating and acquiring knowledge on protections for and present and future considerations of indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions.
I am so proud to have been and to be apart of the movement towards better inclusivity, use, and protection of IK&CE
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias” (Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field), what actions do you believe need to be taken in the IP profession to Break the Bias.
The IP profession needs to move away from 1950s style practices and enter 2022 (some firms are well on their way).
What do you believe are the best ways individuals can challenge biases and inequalities to achieve change?
Speak up. Show you have a voice for you and for those who haven't found theirs. Strongly, rationally, and politely challenge biases and inequalities - by communicating not only with colleagues on your level but with those in leadership positions -- yes, even partners... when you begin talking you'll find they're every bit as human as you ;).
What advice do you have for aspiring women IP professionals?
When you enter this profession enter knowing that you have something unique to bring to the table. Set aside fears of biases. The more confident you are in yourself and the more you find your voice, the harder it is for biases to have a chance to drag you down. Know that there is space for you at the table.
What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders in the IP profession?
The biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders will be learning how to set and maintain boundaries while continuing to prove that they are every bit deserving of a leadership position as those who systematically climb the ladder with more ease.