Monday 6 April 2020

By celebrating women every day, can we innovate for good faster?

By celebrating women every day, can we innovate for good faster?

International Women’s Day, which took place on 8th March, is a powerful reminder to celebrate women in our lives.

In some countries, it is customary to shower women with attention and flowers–somewhat similar to the way we celebrate Mother’s Day here. In the UK, the day spurs celebration of the contribution of women to business, science, politics and society at large. Last year, the milestone coincided with a centenary of female emancipation and underscored that we still have a long way to go in achieving true equality.

A hundred years on, businesses still face a diversity problem. And it’s not just linked to the representation of women on boards. The gruesome reality is–that there are not enough women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) disciplines, meaning that our society and business miss out big on talent.

The issue starts much earlier, in education. In Britain, only one in five computer science university students is a woman. As a result, women are underrepresented in important fields of technology. New government data suggests that today, women make up 24 per cent of the core-STEM workforce in the UK. Women now account for just over 10.2% of engineering professionals and 16.4% of all technology professionals in the UK. According to the Economist, women only hold 12% of jobs in cloud computing. And it is a big problem when we rely on diversity and inclusion to drive innovation–with technology having the real power to change the world.

Women have the talent and the power to transform science and technology. We all know Marie Curie, a Nobel-prize winning physicist. But do we know that two women, Mária Telkes and Eleanor Raymond, created the first house to be powered by solar energy in 1947? And central heating was invented by Alice Parker in 1919? By inspiring the next generation of female talent and a critical mass of female participation in maths and science disciplines every day, we will spearhead our ability to drive break-through innovation, faster, for the benefit of everyone.

It’s only fitting, that this year’s International Women’s Day motto is Each for Equal. It is about levelling the playing field and creating equality of opportunity for all. It is true that an equal world is an enabled world. When it comes to business, equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion breed innovation, creativity, engagement, collaboration, and high performance—the necessary ingredients for a successful workplace in an increasingly competitive and complex world. Great ideas can and should come from anywhere – especially when we are facing the biggest issue of our generation, climate change.

My question is this. If we celebrated female achievement every day, not just on International Women’s Day, could we inspire the next generation of female scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and thinkers who will help us address the climate change emergency faster? We are already seeing the ‘Greta’ effect everywhere, putting climate change front and center of business and country agendas. Which only proves that every person–man or woman–can make a huge difference and has a role to play in bringing about the world of equal opportunities for all. I wholeheartedly agree with the vision that we have to support each other, and men have an equally important role to play to lift women up, in the same way that women work to support each other. A rising tide lifts all boats. We all stand to benefit from an equal and inclusive society and workplace, in the years to come.

This story was originally published on Forbes.

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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