Gender-Inclusive Innovation Policies

Several countries have implemented innovation policy programmes to promote the participation of women in research, entrepreneurship and innovation activities. This page presents a range of relevant examples. Additional interesting facts and figures can be found here.

Please click on the images to find the full policy cases. 

Competitive Feasibility Fund and Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs – Ireland

2012-present

Objective: Fostering female-led business creation.

Target: Women entrepreneurs and women-led start ups.

Instrument: Grant for funding feasibility studies, covering up to 50% of expenditures for a maximum of EUR 25,000 (Feasibility Fund); Equity investment of up to EUR 50,000 for a 10% shareholding in costs for a business plan and achieving key technical and commercial milestones, and non-financial support (Start Fund).

Thuthuka Programme – South Africa

2001-Present

Objective:  Develop human capital and improve research capacities of designated researchers.

Target: Researchers from disadvantaged groups, including specifically women and black people.

Instrument: Grants for research projects proposed by this group.

Programme to support research activities of female researchers – Japan
 

2006-present

Objective: Increase the number of women in leading positions in research, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Target: Women researchers.

Instrument: Funds to research organisations to develop and implement measures aimed at improving the research environment for women researchers, and awareness raising activities in high schools and colleges, aimed at encouraging women to take up careers in STEM disciplines.

Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology – Korea

2001-Present

Objective: Foster women’s participation in science, engineering and technology research and industry.

Target: Women at different stages in their careers in STEM fields.

Instrument: Grants to support engineering research projects led by female graduate students; support for female researchers returning to R&D activities after a career break (e.g. due to maternity); and mentoring programmes for young women in high school.

European Progress Microfinance Facility Programme – Lithuania

2001-Present

Objective:  Develop human capital and improve research capacities of designated researchers.

Target: Researchers from disadvantaged groups, including specifically women and black people.

Instrument: Grants for research projects proposed by this group.

Did you know...?

The low participation of women in research activities is evident in many OECD countries. While in 2013 58% of students that graduated from a higher education institution with a bachelor’s degree were women (OECD, 2015a), women are less likely to choose scientific and technological fields of study: only 31% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in science and engineering in 2013 went to women. Even when they do choose those fields of study, they are less likely to pursue a science career than men – 43% of female graduates versus 71% of male graduates (OECD, 2012). They are also less likely to take up careers in research, particularly in STEM fields. In addition, the proportion of female scientists tends to fall as seniority rises (OECD, 2015b). While personal choices play an important role, women may face certain barriers to pursuing research careers, such as the existence of gender stereotypes; insufficient measures to facilitate the work-life balance; inadequate facilities for childcare; and non-transparent nomination and appointment procedures. 

Women are also underrepresented in entrepreneurial activities. Between 2009 and 2013, women in the European Union were half as likely as men to be new business owners (1.8% vs. 3.5%) (OECD/EU, 2016). Evidence also shows that more women than men decide to become entrepreneurs out of necessity (e.g. due to difficulties in entering the labour market otherwise). Moreover, female-owned enterprises register on average lower profits, labour productivity and innovation outcomes than male-owned firms – which to a great extent is explained by the sectoral, size and capital-intensity characteristics of their firms. It has also been observed that female entrepreneurs rely less on external finance, but it is unclear whether this is due to personal preferences, discriminatory treatment in capital markets (e.g. in cases where they are charged higher interest rates or asked for more guarantees), or a combination of both (OECD, 2012). An additional barrier is their lack of previous experience in management positions, as well as lower engagement in entrepreneur associations or networks. 

 

References

OECD (2015a), Education at a Glance 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2015-en.

OECD (2015b), The Innovation Imperative: Contributing to Productivity, Growth and Well-Being, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264239814-en.

OECD (2012a), Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264179370-en.

OECD/EU (2016), Inclusive Business Creation: Good Practice Compendium, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264251496-en.