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Women In Innovation

Although we have seen a year-on-year increase in the number of women working in STEM, they are still under-represented in the arena of STEM innovation.

WISE, in partnership with Amazon, has undertaken comprehensive research, capturing the views of over 1000 women, to better understand why some women thrive in STEM environments and become innovators.

We asked, what were the barriers and enablers of their careers? How did they define their achievements and their contributions to their organisation and society? And, what could employers, educators and others do to increase the contribution of women to science and technological innovation in the UK?

Read the Amazon Press release

The report summarising our findings is now available:

“Making a Difference” – Why Women in STEM become Innovators

From childhood to career, the report outlines recommendations that drive change by addressing barriers and improving the representation of women in innovation, including:

  • Childhood: Building the pipeline of the next generation of women innovators via outreach to parents as well as children, using language that resonates with young women from an early age, and creating more partnerships between business and existing outreach programmes that stimulate interest in innovation
  • College: Stimulating careers in innovation with tours of STEM-focused businesses, more business role models for students, internships and cross-discipline projects targeting women.
  • Career: Flexible career pathways in technology and innovation through business secondments, return to work programmes, and new skills programmes, as well as career development support through mentoring programmes, peer support and career development coaching.

The report also contains resources, developed by WISE, to enable organisations to review the language they use in relation to innovation and route maps to stimulate discussion on future actions to boost the number of female innovators.

The research was supported by a Women in Innovation Advisory Committee, made up of senior leaders from across the industry. Our academic research partner was The Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University.

Read the full report

Advisory Committee members

  1. Fiona McDonnell, Director, Consumer Retail, Amazon (Chair)
  2. Bhavagaya Bakshi, Co-Founder, C the Signs
  3. Beatrice Bigois, MD of EDF Energy, Customers Business
  4. Ishreen Bradley, Chief Inspiration Officer, Equality Pioneers
  5. Dr Helen Finch, formerly Head of Research & Development, Jaguar Land Rover
  6. Simon Johnson, Country Manager, UK Books, Amazon
  7. Lauren Kisser, Director S3, AWS
  8. Tim Kohn, VP Prime Video, Technology, Amazon
  9. Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive, Business in the Community
  10. Rikke Rosenlund, Founder and CEO, BorrowMyDoggy and non-executive director on WISE Board
  11. Mark Stewart, General Manager, Airbus UK

Note on the economic value calculation:

  • Anglia Ruskin University analysed Annual Business Survey data sets from the Office of National Statistics for all industries and STEM industries
  • Their analysis identified that increasing gender balance in the workforce has a significant and positive impact upon aggregate industry revenue for companies in the STEM industries sector
  • Companies outside the STEM industries sector appear not to share the same dependency.
  • Improving the ratio of women to men in STEM innovation by 10% has the potential to increase company revenues in that sector by £3 billion per year

WISE will publish the full report from Anglian Ruskin as soon as it is finalised. Please contact the office if you have any questions.

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