Moving Past the Harvard Admissions Decision

On June 29, 2023, the US Supreme Court held Harvard College’s and University of North Carolina’s admissions programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, overturning the 2003 Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger.


All eyes were on Harvard, but now they must look forward.

Lack of diversity in college admissions is devastating for many reasons but, as addressed by ChIPs Boston, college provides a pipeline for our future leaders. As we know, diversity is critical to advancements in tech, law and policy.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Kathi Vidal highlighted this at our 2023 World IP Day event.

“I love the theme for [World IP Day 2023]. It’s ‘Accelerating Innovation and Creativity,’” Director Vidal noted. “You don’t accelerate it if half the people are on the bench.”

Indeed, we hinder technological advancements when we fail to create an inclusive industry. It’s not always loud like a Supreme Court decision. Sometimes, it’s a quiet bias.

Dr. Hadiya-Nicole Green was lauded by the scientific community and community-at-large when she developed a laser-activated non-therapy that cured cancer in mice with minimal side-effects. She founded the Ora Lee Smith Foundation to support her mission to eradicate cancer. Despite the celebration of her work, Green still lacks the funding for the clinical trials necessary to bring her breakthrough to the next level. Since 2016, the foundation has raised over $2.5 million towards their $10 million goal to cover costs of clinical trials and FDA approval.

“The technology right now is sitting on the shelf collecting dust while I’m raising money and writing grants,” said Green in an interview with Shondaland. “It’s tragic because cancer charities raise over a billion dollars a year in the name of the hope of a cure and cancer awareness.”

While Green acknowledges the importance of awareness of early detection, she cannot help but raise questions. “[M]y nonprofit has struggled to raise $10 million to do a clinical trial for a technology that’s already been proven and peer reviewed.”

Green and her work are primary examples of how bias can inhibit innovation, especially in the area of philanthropic funding.

Research by Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group highlights the disparities faced by black women in particular. Their study cites four key barriers to capital for leaders of color and potential solutions.

So, colleges may be where the fight begins, but it does not have to be where it ends. Learn more about the research by Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group and how we can make an impact in our field now.

Best regards,

Joan Toth
Executive Director