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Innovation & Gender

Published by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems VINNOVA and authored by Inger Danilda and Jennie Granat Thorslund (eds.), the book tackles questions such as "Why does GENDER DIVERSITY matter when it comes to product and service innovation? What has RESEARCH shown? And what does HARD-WON EXPERIENCE tell us?".

A result of a collaboration project between two countries, Norway and Sweden, and three different public agencies, Innovation Norway, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth and VINNOVA, sharing a common ground, the mission to increase growth by innovation, the book has as starting point acknowledging the fact that the Nordic region cannot compete with low wages so to sustain economic development and growth but builds on innovation and competitiveness. The welfare model and high levels of trust, cooperation, education and R&D funding are factors explaining the innovation performance and competitiveness of the Nordic region, where important parts of the welfare model are measures for increased gender equality. 

This book provides the reader with a mixture of theory, practices and models as a basis for initiatives aimed at removing barriers to growth through the connection of innovation and gender. Findings from research and practice are discussed in the light of future demands on the business enterprise sector, challenges facing the Nordic region and Europe, plus policy developments towards broader views on innovation in the European Union. A wide range of arguments for the innovation and gender connection is highlighted in the book and six core statements are made in relation to the innovation case for gender diversity:

  • Competition for well-educated employees;
  • Competition through better decisions;
  • Gender diversity as driver of creativity and innovation;
  • Competition with user-driven innovation;
  • Gender as a means of design innovation;
  • Competition by image shaping.

A theoretical framework and evidence-based arguments for each of these core statements are presented, as well as pilot efforts to increase competitiveness in the business enterprise sector by applying a gender perspective.

The reader will become familiar with Norwegian and Swedish programmes for cluster development and five innovation milieus involved in ongoing development work to connect innovation and gender. There are descriptions of pilot actions to improve the competitive advantage of clusters focusing on the steel industry, food production chain, maritime industry, development of products and services based on fibreoptics and automated manufacturing and lightweight materials. Examples are provided from clusters located in diverse regional contexts and experiences from new initiatives are combined with knowledge acquired over a number of years in well-established innovation milieus.

Ten generic methods for introducing a gender perspective in innovation milieus are identified in the book, through analysis of the developments in the Nordic region and state-of the art research. Furthermore, an analytical model for tracking the progress and outcomes of actions implemented in cluster programmes, innovation milieus and companies is introduced. This model is based on research carried out by Etta Olgiati and Gillian Shapiro plus case studies of corporate gender equality strategies, change processes and innovative management practices in seven European countries. The book gives cluster professionals ideas for strategies to mobilise actors for gender diversity and tools for bridging the gap between policy aspirations and the implementation of new practices in innovation milieus.

Please see here for a full reading.