Women in Spine Series: Jennifer, Legal Affairs, Intellectual Property Counsel

In honor of International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, we’re dedicating a special series for some of our female leaders at NuVasive. What is International Women’s Day (IWD)? It is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over. In addition, IWD marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Internationally, purple is a color for symbolizing women, signifying justice and dignity. At NuVasive, our mission is to paint the world purple and continue to change as many patient lives as possible. Pairing the two purples together, we hope NUVA can help drive the movement to increase unity, advocacy, and action in our society.

Featuring our next #WomenInSpine, Jennifer, Director of Legal Affairs, Intellectual Property Counsel:

What woman inspires you and why? 

So many women inspire me for so many reasons. Something they all seem to have in common, though, is they all conduct themselves with both confidence and grace. Also, my mom. She is and always has been so patient and selfless, and she made being a full-time working mom appear a whole lot easier than it actually is.

What advice would you give to other female professionals in Legal Affairs? 

Be a zealous advocate for yourself. I think women in general, but particularly female lawyers, are very comfortable and effective at advocating for others, but are usually hesitant to advocate for themselves. That advice is easy to give and difficult to follow.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? 

Disclaimer: I have 3 little kids at home, one of whom is a newborn, so my current perspective on this is heavily influenced by this particular season of my life. I think the barriers to female leadership are multifactorial to say the least. One significant barrier is what organizations define as ‘leadership qualities’. The definition is traditionally inherently male qualities, even if that isn’t a conscious decision. As a result, I think women are often advised by well-meaning mentors to try to learn to project those traits, even if it feels completely disingenuous.

The most empowering phrase that I’ve heard in a development discussion with a mentor is “Quiet leaders are OK too.”


I think a lot of women still subscribe to the Tiara Syndrome even though we know it’s not a successful strategy (we just keep holding out hope!). Another big one is women are particularly affected by work-life balance issues and in different ways than men. A lot of female professionals I personally know plan their families around the best time to let their career stagnate, or they don’t pursue advancement because they’re concerned they won’t be able to meet their family’s needs and the demands of their job.

How do you think the female perspective benefits our company’s mission of changing patient lives? 

I think the female perspective benefits our company mission because the female perspective is 50% of the human experience. But I think diversity of perspectives in general, not just male vs. female, is beneficial to innovation, and innovation is a big part of our company mission.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? 

Right now, women are leaving the legal profession at, frankly, an alarming rate. I think there will need to be some significant shifts in the mindsets and behaviors of both men and women to address the issues that are causing that phenomenon. I’m afraid that the biggest challenge for the current generation of women is burn out from trying to overcome the real and perceived hurdles to career advancement.

To learn more about International Women’s Day and how you can get involved, click here.

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