MDI is developing, in Nordic cooperation, more gender- and diversity-sensitive tools for the preparation of RDI programmes

Time after time, the Nordic countries have ranked well when measuring gender differences between countries and the quality of research and innovation environments. Beneath the surface however, the picture is more complex. The simple fact is that, despite the goals, the RDI field remains quite gendered.

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Research, development and innovation policy, in which technology plays a significant role, often misleadingly appears to be gender neutral. RDI has however remained a predominantly male-dominated area, although the education level of young women in technology-intensive research areas is increasing all the time. Those startups and SMEs that are at the forefront of creating innovations are often male-led. In the labour market, women who train in the field of technology are more often placed in development positions instead of management. We are talking here then about the Nordic innovation paradox of equality: the general assumption of equality ignores the lack of equality in certain themes, such as innovation funding.

Increasing diversity in RDI development also requires greater attention. In recent years, there has also been increasing acknowledgement of the fact that, in Finland, our unique innovation environment and noble equality goals alone are not enough. We can only rise to the forefront of innovation if we ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives in research and innovation already in the development phase.

The AGDA project draws attention to the gender paradoxes of innovation, especially in the area of ​​RDI activities related to the green transition

In the AGDA project which began in August 2022, we are looking at a sample of RDI financiers and RDI financing instruments in the Nordic countries.

Our goal is the creation of a stronger knowledge base and a common platform for dialogue and development to help create better practices to promote inclusion, diversity and gender equality in RDI programmes. We seek to determine whether participatory programming could offer new perspectives and tools for innovations and the policy instruments that promote them. In the Nordic cooperation project, the understanding of equality and diversity in RDI programme planning will be deepened while a common platform will be created for co-creating better practices.Our goal is to promote inclusion, diversity and gender equality throughout the entire programme cycle: from programme ideation to planning, design and actual implementation.

The work begins with a document analysis and literature mapping, with which we seek to identify and analyse a representative sample of Nordic evaluation and monitoring frameworks for innovation, including equality plans and other tools. In addition to these syntheses, we will also carry out surveys and offer a co-creation forum to support the networking of Nordic innovation and research funding bodies, their actors and networks, as well as key stakeholders and networks.It may be justified here to argue that we need to know more so that inclusion and diversity can be better taken into account in the design and implementation of innovation programmes. A better level of understanding could be enriching as a result of organisations and work communities, but could also lead to better results in terms of individual and societal consequences. Our goal is thus to create a tool for policy design, the so-called “framework for participatory and inclusive innovation programming” which will be created and tested cooperatively.

The project will be implemented from August 2022 to May 2023 and its financier is the Nordic Equality Fund (NIKK). The project led by MDI has partners from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.

More info

Addressing the gender and diversity paradoxes in innovation – towards a more inclusive policy design (AGDA)

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