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

The AGDA project aimed to better understand and to some extent also in practical terms, tackle the gender paradoxes of innovation, especially in the area of programmatic support for RDI activities in the area of ​​the green transition. Our goal was a stronger knowledge base and a common platform for dialogue and development to create better practices to promote inclusion, diversity and gender equality in RDI programmes.

Our innovation ability in the Nordic countries has thus far solved tame problems, but now that we are facing increasingly complex challenges (such as climate change, energy transition, social sustainability), etc., our ability to solve problems is challenged. Innovation processes are full of paradoxes, and many are related to diversity and gender balance. The innovation paradox is also that the more you strive to promote innovation, the less innovation you achieve. The paradox of diversity in the area of ​​innovation development in turn is that, although diversity increases innovation potential and capacity, diversity is seldom taken as a starting point when developing innovations. Another diversity paradox familiar to the innovation sector is that although diversity creates innovations in companies and universities, different perspectives and ideas are not rewarded and organisations with diverse and more innovative underrepresented groups seem not to benefit from the research innovation setting.

The work began with a document analysis and literature mapping, with which we sought 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 carried 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 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.