Innovation from a feminist perspective

blog hildeInnovation, which is traditionally defined as any idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption, is a vital part of Nordwit research, as we aim to learn more about mechanisms supporting or working as obstacles for women’s careers in technology-driven research and innovation in and outside of academe. The focus in two sub-projects is on innovation systems as sites of study which consist of institutions and networks across public, private and knowledge sectors that have as one goal the promotion of activities related to research, development and innovation. In these sites of our bottom-up study, we meet and interview women as well as companies, institutions, funders and other relevant actors, that contribute to the innovation landscape. In this context we collect stories about women’s experiences, and we discuss challenges and strategies related to gender equality in the institutions.

From a feminist perspective, the ‘natural’ association of innovation with male-dominated fields like engineering, technology, and science, is criticized because it marginalizes women from participating in the work of innovation. Feminist perspectives problematize what is considered to be “natural” aspects of innovation by applying feminist theories, such as intersectionality and “situated agency”. The Nordwit framework recognizes that innovation happens in different contexts and spaces that are gendered in various ways. Thus, we consider innovations to include technical, service and social innovations in public and private sectors.

Our study documents that digital innovation, as part of the ongoing digital transformation, happens across sectors. This creates new techno-spaces, and many of the women we have interviewed have found work in such places rather than within the IT sector.

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