WISE Conference 2019 Rewind – Women in Innovation

Fiona McDonnell, WISE Conference 2019

Do you recognise yourself as an innovator? Why not? Take 30 minutes to find out what you have in common with the women who took part in our recent research, carried out on behalf of Amazon, into women innovators. Listen to Fiona McDonnell, Director of Consumer Retail at Amazon UK, as she explains the findings and take a look at her slides.

Innovation is big business – its value to the UK economy has been estimated at up to 2.6% of UK gross domestic product (GDP), and the government has prioritised innovation in its plans, with a commitment to get research and development (R&D) spending up to 2.4% of GDP.

However, women remain underrepresented in UK innovation. Recent WISE research, produced in conjunction with Amazon, has found that the way in which innovation is talked about is a major barrier to getting more women into the sector. The language of innovation simply is not resonating with women; even women in these jobs rarely use the word “innovator” to describe themselves.

We were delighted to welcome Fiona McDonnell, Director of Consumer Retail at Amazon UK, to share the findings from our research at the 2019 WISE Conference. In her talk, Fiona outlined the key barriers faced by women in innovation – with a lack of confidence cited by more women than any other – as well as what needs to change if we are to help them to realise their potential. Better career development support for women, better retraining opportunities and more inclusive innovation programmes are just some of the suggestions in our research.

The potential is huge – our research found that if we can increase the number of women in innovation roles by 10%, we can boost business output by £3bn a year, while the UK government says says that if female entrepreneurs were able to scale up their businesses at the same rate as their male peers, they could add £250bn to the UK economy.

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