This Sunday, I read a troubling and thought-provoking article in the New York Times – Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing by David Leonhardt. Leonhardt discusses the work of the Equality of Opportunity Project, particularly research about people who become inventors, and those who don’t. Data from patent records and tax records show highly significant gaps by income, race, gender, and geography.
I was particularly struck by a comment by lead researcher Raj Chetty: “Creativity is broadly distributed. Opportunity is not.”
Inequities in access to broadband, devices, and training are surely among the factors contributing to this inequality, just as digital inclusion can be a factor contributing to solutions. The report’s data show exposure to inventors and inventions makes children more likely to become inventors. Digital inclusion is a way both to broaden exposure to innovators and innovation and to broaden the access to opportunity.