Update #5 - The outcome
The end of 2017 market the end of Project W and we have spent the first few months of 2018 following up and mapping out the next steps. I would like to share with you some of our learnings from the project and the result we achieved.
The project had one quantifiable goal, three objectives and one impact goal:
- Increase the number of women who are active as idea owners in the innovations support process by 100 %
- Conduct a thorough analysis of the KTH Innovation main processes from a gender perspective.
- Make a list of measures to develop these processes in line with the gender perspective
- Integrate new insights and knowledge from the project into the communications and activity plan
- Have positive impact on the attitudes and approach within KTH Innovation to put beyond reasonable doubt that we support the innovation development by women and men on equal terms.
The number of women who are active idea owners increased by 70% during the project. It is not totally satisfying but we have to view it as a work-in-progress. As this is now one of our standard metrics we stand a much better chance of increasing the number of women who make use of our support.
We have performed a thorough analysis of our main processes, made a list of measures and integrated insight and knowledge from the project in our communication and activity plan.
The most important result of the project is that we, simply by addressing the issue, already improved out support to women at KTH. Compared to 2016 we have higher percentage of female idea owners, they are awarded a larger share of verification funds, we have a higher number of female consultants winning consulting assignments in our innovation projects and we have integrated the efforts for improved gender equality into our operations plan. We will stick out our neck and claim that it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that KTH Innovation supports the innovation development of women and men on equal terms.
Action for change
In essence, Project W has resulted in a number of improvements that we have either already made or will make in the future. It is quite a long list that we are happy to share with you but here I will just highlight a few examples:
- Show diversity in workshop materials and presentations, for example highlight examples of women and men, whether in stereotypically female or male areas.
- Allow women and men an equal share of speaking time in group exercises, presentations and pitch sessions.
- Review the use of usual terms and expressions to be more inclusive of people who may have less insight into the innovation eco system so as not to assume that everyone is familiar with the jargon.
- Emphasise that KTH Innovation drastically reduces the risk associated with commercialisation and that the best time to give entrepreneurship a try is as a student.
- Work proactively to find investors who are women and include them in our network of investors.
- Ensure that our business coaches support the female ide owners to seek and receive the same amount of funds as their male colleagues for the verification of their idea.
- Actively promote diversity in recruitment to the innovation project teams and support equality in job descriptions.
- In situations where we meet researchers and students, such as in seminars and presentations, highlight the importance of women putting their names to their inventions.
- Allow the gender perspective to influence the choice of collaborative activities and interventions within the innovation office framework.
- Ensure a safe and secure work environment for both women and men at our premises.
- Review goals and strategies to ensure that they support equality.
- Distribute the responsibility for social activities connected to the workplace evenly so that it doesn’t always fall to a woman in the team.
Perhaps the most important action to take is to continue to critically assess ourselves and our environment to identify and tackle prejudice. Nobody is above structure and norms; it is not personal but affects us all in one way or another. It is only by continually shining a torch on the issue that we will achieve long term change.
The world around us
Aside from what we as a team can do with our own work we realise that action needs to be taken on many levels. It is not just within KTH that change has to come but in society at large and particularly inside the innovation eco system. In order for more ideas from women meeting the market we are convinced that:
- The number of women receiving innovation support must increase. We will continue working with other innovation stakeholders to give women the same opportunities as men in all parts of research and education, and particularly in impact and commercialisation. Before women even come as far as the innovation office their academic careers need to be suited to their particular situation. There is a lot to do to break down barriers around rules for research funding, pace of publications and the number of administrative tasks that seem to bog down female researchers.
- Women must have a larger share of verification funding. Without funding it is almost impossible to take an idea to the market, meaning women must have better access to capital. Our project shows that women who are supported by KTH Innovation get access to these funds but there aren’t enough of them. If you look at venture capital in a later phase it is very hard for women to secure funding. We will strive to up the number of women getting early phase verification funds and make sure that they are set up to take in venture capital at a later stage. At the same time, we will use our influence in the innovation eco system to improve the opportunity for women to fund their innovations.
- Female traits must be better appreciated in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not a male sport but the norm is hard to shift. Women must be allowed to be themselves and put their own stamp on the innovation system, not just adjust to it. We take an ideological stand on this and we claim that the stereotypically male traits that are often highlighted in entrepreneurship – risk-taking, competitiveness, dedication – are made to be disproportionately important. To be well prepared, communicative and listening, which are stereotypically female traits, can be just as important for an entrepreneur. We want to challenge the norm and the traditional way of defining a good entrepreneur because we believe there is much for society to gain from increased diversity.
Thank you for your interest and support!
Project W was an internal development project at KTH Innovation with great focus on ourselves, our process and our environment. The result forms a good basis for improving our service based on our own terms but we also think that it can make a positive change to the innovation eco system far beyond KTH.
Many have taken an interest in our approach to the project and wanted to be a part of it. We have truly appreciated this and it gave us motivation and encouragement. I want to thank all of you who have contacted us and contributed in so many different ways, without your help the project might well have resulted in uninformed navel gazing without perspective or context.
Now that the project is concluded we will spread information about our approach and result to partners and stakeholders both internationally and internationally. If you have any questions or need more information please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 08-790 60 39.
Project Manager Project W