Which of the latest EU research and innovation policy guidelines address the mentioned challenges? How does your institution react to these challenges? How does your institution ensure that Europe’s answers to the grand societal challenges will be gender equitable and sensitive to the gender dimension?
The existing inequalities in research and innovation should be tackled to face the climate crisis and the digital revolution and invent together a green, fair and human future. Designing the solutions and ideas that will help us in a transition to a green, digital and healthy future will depend on harnessing all talents and this involves getting more women in science and innovation. We cannot afford to lose any of the talents in our society, since each one of them is essential to embark in the decarbonisation and digitalisation of our societies and economies. We need to make sure all talents are included, as talents are equally distributed, despite gender, geographical origin or family background, but opportunities are not.
STEM related competencies are essential for the fastest growing and highest paid job categories. Several recent studies show that changes in the global labour market will lead to net job creation of 58 million jobs, especially for scientists, data analysts and specialists in artificial intelligence. We know that only 22% of artificial intelligence professionals worldwide are women – a huge gender gap that reflects major issues such as job segregation, biases, and the perpetuation of inequalities.
We urgently need to address this situation, especially when we know that only 18% of ICT specialists are women in Europe, according to the European Commission’s Women in Digital 2020 index, although the number of women with university degrees has increased exponentially in the last years. Furthermore, according to the report on the situation of the European Technology Sector 2020, prepared by Atomico, only 9% of the total capital invested in technology companies in Europe went to teams with at least one female founder, while 91% went to men-only teams. This means that, if technological developments are carried out almost entirely by men, half of society is not represented in the development process.
I would also like to mention the need to re-evaluate the notion of innovation, as it is currently understood as essentially linked to digital initiatives. Without underestimating the importance of technology, especially in dealing with the green and digital transitions and overcoming the Covid-19 crisis, we cannot ignore the many innovations in non-digital areas, many by women, who are contributing enormously with benefits to society and should be considered as such to receive funding and support. Likewise, we must challenge ideas of leadership and success built on masculine parameters and stop using the white man’s experience as the standard and universal.
Therefore, we must be critical and act in a comprehensive manner, actively promoting the participation of women and girls in STEAM, taking advantage of, on the one hand, the potential of women in innovation and, on the other, that of men in care, using and advocating a broader meaning of innovation and eliminating barriers to women’s investment access, both from public and private sources, in order to attract all available talent and knowledge.
At the same time that we have to work on specific measures such as those mentioned in the previous paragraph, we must promote general measures of equality, linked both to the labor market and to the best distribution of care, otherwise we can hardly close that gap. We need those changes now, we cannot wait any longer. Because not only innovation and science play a fundamental role for sustainable development, but also gender equality.