Update #3 - Equality and Ideation!
What's going on in Project W?
During Equality Week, arranged by not-for-profit student organisation at KTH in collaboration with Ericsson and Netlight, I was invited to join a panel discussion on Startup Equality. Together with Jill Lindström from STING, Hedvig Ahlgren from Stagecast, Lisa Löfgren from BlueCall and moderator Claes Nyberg I shared my thoughts on entrepreneurship and innovation from a gender equality perspective. I would like to share a couple of insights I had whilst listening to the other eminent participants.
Women believe in themselves to a lesser extent than men and don’t stand up for their ideas in the same way that men do. Women are reluctant to launch a startup because they find it too uncertain and risky. These are recurring assertions that arise on a regular basis and also during this discussion. We hear it, we nod in accord and then we move on. But hold on a minute! These are actually issues we can do something about, as long as we can stand the thought that might actually be true. Do we really want women to believe less in themselves and be scared off from trying entrepreneurship? The worst thing we can do is to just brush past the above assertions as if it was all nonsense despite the fact that I’ve heard them at least twenty times in the past year.
Shouldn’t we act on this immediately to improve the chances of women believing in themselves and daring entrepreneurship? I can see three primary areas;
Women look for mentorship to a larger extent than men (another assertion but tune into any Women-in-Tech-talk you want on youtube and you’ll hear it). If we connect this to the assertion that women believe less in themselves we have the beginning of a solution that should be relatively easy to try. We could try connecting women interested in innovation with their own mentor if they want to try out their idea with KTH Innovation. By mentor I mean a person who takes you under her wings, introduce you to the right people, help you see your talents, challenges and opportunities and generally has your back. As a person and as an idea owner.
Lowering the thresholds
If women see the risk involved in entrepreneurship as an obstacle, then KTH Innovation makes a spectacular own goal if we don’t tell them that it’s exactly during your studying that the risk is at its lowest. We don’t talk enough about this in our communication or in meetings with idea owners today. I suggest we start now. Testing idea development during your time at university is really the smartest thing you can do. It looks great on your cv, you have secured funding through student loans and the only thing you really risk is your own time. Add to that the access to free support and taking your first tentative startup steps in a safe and encouraging environment and you should be good to go.
What is a good idea? And how do you have a good idea? If you know that it should be easier to believe in the ideas you have and to stand up for them. But I’m afraid our offer somehow shoots above the target so why not try a couple of steps lower on the innovation ladder? At KTH Innovation we spring into immediate action and are arranging a workshop on the subject in March. Come and find out more about how to identify, evaluate, verify and develop and idea using various tools and methods.
I want to finish up with an appeal for you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing or finding out more. If you want to follow this project and KTH Innovation in general please sign up for our newsletter , and of course you’ll find us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates!