America’s rate of innovation would be four times greater than it is now if the industry was not so skewed. In fact, all it would take is for low-income women, minorities, and children to invent at the same rate as white men from top-earning families. Of course, moving mountains takes the will of many.
Still, the study’s suggestions are quite straightforward: develop policies that even the playing field when it comes to exposure to innovation. This will harness the underutilized talent that languishes due to forces largely out of their control, reducing disparities while also spurring economic growth and greater innovation.
Mentoring programs and internships are two suggestions from the study, along with utilizing social networks to increase exposure. And emphasizing participants backgrounds — such as girls learning from female inventors rather than males ones — will also help.
“Our analysis does not tell us which programs are most effective, but it does provide some guidance on how they should be targeted,” the study says. “Targeting exposure programs to children from under-represented groups who excel in math and science at early ages is likely to maximize their impacts.”