On 18 September Marja Vehviläinen from Tampere University and her team there, together with Hannele Varsa of TANE, the Finnish Council for Gender Equality, hosted a high-level seminar involving representatives from the Finnish regions, from Nordic national innovation and research funders, and from NGOs in debates about gender equality in research and innovation. The event was part of the work conducted by Nordwit, our Nordforsk-funded Centre of Excellence looking at women in technology-driven careers.
The seminar highlighted prominently the different ways in which policy makers within the Nordic countries but also beyond seek to address gender imbalances in research and innovation, from the very structured process-oriented view of the Swedish funder Vinnova to a more diversity-oriented approach by Business Finland. Regional difficulties were made apparent in debates that indicated how European structural funds favour male-dominated industries with the effect that female-dominated ones that are equally necessary in the regions such as care and social work are not supported through those funds. Innovation is thus often already gendered through the very policies that are intended to encourage economic change. The entanglement of economic with social change remains a fraught phenomenon – more research, please!