How to do gender inclusive innovation

What characterises gender-inclusive innovation ecosystems?

SPIDER’s Caroline Wamala Larsson has written a policy brief based on the research on  the

innovation sector and gender inclusion made for the EQUALS-EU project.


The brief features a gender inclusive innovation standard, recommendations and

key action points to acheive sustainable gender-inclusive innovation ecosystems.


Download brief (pdf)Read key action points

Gender-Inclusive Innovation Standard

Using these standards ensures that the ecosystems where products and services are developed are gender-inclusive. 

illustration in red and purple of three women/nonbinary persons with closed eyes speech bubbles with lightbulb icon, envelope icon and check mark icon above their heads


Let the key groups define the problem

illustration in red and purple of women and nonbinary persons engaged in conversation


Center ideation and solution design around the key groups

Illustration of two women facing each other, talking and several speech bubbles between them


Use gender-inclusive nouns and pronouns throughout the innovation process

illustration in red and purple of women and nonbinary persons engaged in conversation


Employ a gender diverse metrix  to asess gender-inclusiveness before and during innovation

illustration in red and purple of women and nonbinary persons engaged in conversation


Document and archive the innovation process

This or that?

A brief glossary of gender-associated terminologies

These terms are often misused or used interchangeably. It is important to understand the difference when working to transform innovation systems.


Positioning individuals according to their circumstances and investing in their opportunities from a perspective of social justice.


A process that leads to a state of a fair and just community, where diversity is regardes as a resource.


Exclusion can carry both negative and positive connotations where a situation or state has been orchestrated to leave out particular groups and invite specific ones. 


A process that brings about a state or a situation that is multicultural or a variety of social groups.


Normalising the presence of gendered minorities in a society. It requires special attention to the minority groups, who receive assistance through programmes and activities aimed to ensure  access to the same opportunities in a mainstream society. 


Equality is the provision of equal opportunities in a society that is unequal. Equity is a process that leads to an equal society.


The state of being fair and equal. In the context of this policy brief where all ideas matter. 


The consequence of exclusive processes where some actors are not invited to or allowed to particular spaces. This is often in relation to a person’s gender identity. 


The result of diversity where an innovation ecosystem is seen as embodying a diverse group of people.


Process of empowering, capcitating and advocating for women and under-represented communities in a mainstream society. Integration requires women to situate themselves in the mainstream society. 

Recommendations for gender-inclusive social innovation ecosystems

Recruit – not just filling quotas in education or career opportunities

The education systems that exclude girls from choosing STEM subjects from primary level must be dismantled if girls are to have a chance at being part of the innovation ecosystem. This is an affirmative activity that needs to continue to ensure that innovations that contribute to social transformation are not just safety valves but ones
that bring about the structural change required.


Retain – enable flexible career paths

There are several reasons women do not stay in STEM careers even when they are trained in the field. Contending with social expectations both in private and public life, particularly in how society orders the work-life, means that finding balance can be a major factor in why retention levels are extremely low. Data from the study proposes flexible working conditions, structures and policies that enable continued productivity regardless of a woman’s life stage. Supportive avenues such as “gender adjudicators” that allow a woman to express their frustrations and accomplishments freely.


Reward – representation and recognition matters

Younger generations relate to role models who espouse their aspirations, look like them or remind them of themselves. Representation makes visible alternate realities and rewards the innovation ecosystem that has made the representation possible.  Therefore, profiling women and minority groups in STEM and innovation spaces and collecting data that makes visible the representation should be part of the innovation standard. Rewarding also entails recognition through special themed events that
centre around celebrating the achievements of underrepresented groups. The global initiatives such as Women in Tech, Girls in ICT, and Women in Science, continue to motivate interest and promote participation in areas that may otherwise remain unattainable to women.


Download the policy brief or other workpackage deliverables by clicking on the images 

First page of policy brief
Social media graphics for deliverable 1.2