International Women's Day Profile - IPIC Director - Béatrice Ngatcha
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.
Béatrice Ngatcha, Partner, Lavery Lawyers, IPIC Director
Béatrice T. Ngatcha is a lawyer and patent agent in Lavery’s intellectual property group. She is a patent agent registered to practice in Canada and the United States. She is also a lawyer called to the Ontario Bar and a member of the Quebec Bar (c.j.c). Béatrice holds a doctoral degree in chemistry from Université Laval and has been a post-doctoral fellow at the National Research Council in Ottawa.
In addition to a busy patent prosecution practice serving Canadian and foreign clients, Beatrice’s expertise in sought in the areas of intellectual property litigation, trade secrets, due diligence, strategy, portfolio value building, licensing and arbitration.
Beatrice is a regular speaker on intellectual properties topics at academic and professional conferences.
Why is equality, diversity, and inclusion important to the IP profession?
For me, equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within a group of smart and intelligent people such as intellectual property (IP) professionals, in a multicultural society, should not be questioned, to any extend. Sadly, we still feel the need to pause and assess its importance. I would say, EDI is simply common sense, and the right thing to do. If any one is unable to see its importance at least on the human side, I would point to the numerous studies that prove its economic importance.
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
The accomplishment I am the most proud of is certainly being a mother to two amazing human beings, my daughter and my son—It is very rewarding to watch them go through life following their own paths. Also, I feel a sense of pride each time a young person reaches out to me for some guidance, giving me the opportunity to share lessons learned from my life and professional experiences.
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 create more space for women and particularly BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) women to grow and shine. For example, efforts must be made to have more women enter the profession and feel welcomed to participate and get involved. Such efforts include actions in the education system at the elementary and secondary levels to get more girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. I must say that I put some emphasis on BIPOC women because quite often, organizations would undertake actions to break the bias, and consider the job done once a certain level of representativity of white women is reached, deliberately or unconsciously disregarding BIPOC women.
What do you believe are the best ways individuals can challenge biases and inequalities to achieve change?
I believe that challenging biases and inequalities should be everyone’s responsibility—people at the receiving end of biases and inequality should not be left on their own to defend themselves. If you witness a friend, a family member, a colleague engaging in such behaviour, you should feel it an obligation to call them out, to step up and denounce it.
What advice do you have for aspiring women IP professionals?
First, I would tell them that they picked an amazing profession! It is important to take the time at the beginning of one’s career to get trained well. Also, it is important to pick a mentor within and/or outside your organization and try following their advises as much as possible, i.e., let yourself get mentored. The IP profession is vibrant and dynamic—make the effort to participate to activities, network, and get involved to the extend possible.
What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders in the IP profession?
Women leaders in the IP profession should continue working hard on improving representativity within the profession. BIPOC women should increase their level of participation and involvement, not only within the profession but also in the education system—volunteer to speak at schools. This will give BIPOC youth the opportunity to see real life role models. Efforts in mentoring must certainly have to be taken quite seriously.