Today Facebook was full of posts about women innovators, this wave of FB posts telling stories about women innovators started after MEP Korwin-Mikke in the EU parliament stated that
Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent.
They must earn less, that’s all.
On my Facebook feed today I learned about Hedy Lamarr who designed radio systems and redesigned traffic lights and Carmen Hijosa who has invented a leather alternative and about many more women with great ideas. But women innovators have received very little attention before now and are still being shunned in public and by men who have the means to support innovators.
To me this wave of attention to women innovators is very interesting because I have my own experience of trying to get the attention of men who have the power to choose which innovations that should be promoted and supported. Every one of the people I have been in contact with, both in Sweden and in Finland, in connection with my innovation The Solar Shade have been men. I have often wondered if I would have had more luck if I had sent my 30 year old son to represent my idea, which he also helped me develop into a prototype. My last encounter was with a young man at the Finnish Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment where an innovator can get all kinds of support IF THEY (the men there) find your idea interesting. He did not find it interesting enough.
This leaves me bewildered because everyone I have showen the shade to find it very interesting and useful. It can of course be further developed but I think no one can say it is a bad idea not worth developing. This I think also is proven by the number of similar products which have emerged since 2013 when I started working on my idea.
It is hard for anyone to promote a new idea or innovation. Yet it seems as though women innovators are having even more problems then men. According to the Thinkability blog if there is a competition (for business ideas and innovation) with over say 1000 applicants there are often ten people short-listed and out of them often maybe one is a woman.
Why is it then that ideas presented by women are not chosen? I am sure there are many reasons for this and one obvious one is that fewer women are competing, which of course is a problem in itself, and another are the usual discrimination tactics often still used against women.
I also think we all, at least in the western part of the world, have been taught and brainwashed that the great innovators and scientists throughout history and also today are men. When you close you eyes and think about an “innovator” what kind of person do you see? I am quite sure you do not see a 55 year old women :) but rather a male person, like Einstein.
But of course we can change this by being active and not shy to show are innovation! Here is mine:
Within the visual arts gender inequality is also staggering. According to the latest numbers from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 51 percent of artists are women, yet only five percent of the art displayed in museums is made by female artists. Though women earn more than half of the MFAs granted in the U.S., only 1/3 of gallery representation is allotted to female artists. You can read a longer discussion on this subject on the thinkability blog.
As of 2015, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 822 men and 48 women!