Principles and values
Changes and new paradigms in innovation processes need to be steered and monitored to make sure that they do not reproduce or exacerbate existing gender and intersected inequalities. On the contrary, it is important to mainstream an inclusive gender perspective in open innovation and co-creative dynamics so as to promote inclusiveness and equity of research and innovation processes and ecosystems
There is indeed an “innovation case” for inclusive gender equality in the sense that this can be a lever for increasing the excellence and quality of innovation, but there is also a need for going deeper and critically deconstructing and rethinking innovation narratives, norms and practices.
Gender studies have shed light on the inherent bias in traditional definitions of innovation, which tend to revolve around male-centric subjects and values. This bias has persisted, due to the historical association of innovation mostly with technology, infrastructure and tangible products, leaving aside innovation in social/welfare/service-related domains. Given the persistent gender segregation in STEM disciplines, it is not surprising that the perception of innovation and innovators often carries masculine traits. To address this issue, we advocate for a broader understanding of innovation, considering the social economy, welfare, and creative industries as essential drivers of innovation. In fact, these sectors tend to have a higher representation of employed women, and the ways they operate are being radically transformed by digital technologies as well, not always taking into account and valuing their needs and perspectives.
The prevailing definitions of innovation often carry an implicit bias towards exceptional, groundbreaking innovations. However, it’s essential to recognise that innovation can also emerge gradually from everyday practices. It does not always require inventing something entirely new, it is not limited to technology alone; it often stems from everyday activities and adaptations, while tech and social innovations can leverage each other. To foster a more diverse and equitable innovation landscape, multiple voices, needs and perspectives must be heard and engaged in co-creating solutions: civil society representatives, actors from the social economy sectors, representatives from women and minorities can be considered as ecosystem stakeholders.