Promotion of gender equality drives innovation both in science and in industrial organisations. However, we often fail to put scientific knowledge into practice. This Falling Walls Circle Plenary Table explores the following questions: How to implement gender equality to increase the quality of innovation? And who needs to change: decision and policy makers shaping gender equality or those who are disadvantaged?

For Kumsal Bayazit, change towards gender equality has to happen on all levels: “We have to factor sex and gender into the research, work on gender representation, and support early researchers with the right culture and safety so that everybody feels safe in contributing their ideas”, she says. Monika Lessl agrees with this notion, but also reminds the panel that bringing in more women alone does not necessarily lead to change. For her, it is equally important to accordingly change the power structure, leadership as well as financial education.

More women, different research

Indeed, female founders – and VC funders – are still a minority. “We need to look more for female and diverse founders”, Simone Menne says, “because diversity leads to innovation.” Ultimately, gender equality and diversity has the potential to tackle major challenges in regards to sustainability and climate change.

For Londa Schiebinger, it is also important to “fix the knowledge”, as she calls it. By integrating sex, gender and intersectional analysis into traditionally male-driven fields such as computer science, AI and robotics, the research and its applications will change accordingly. After all, a lot of progress has already been made in the past 20 years in regards to gender equality, but science and society as a whole still have a long way to go. Or as Tatjana König puts it: “True innovation can only happen if we involve as many types of people as possible.”