As part of a broader exploration of leadership, this national project initially funded by WISE (the Women into Science and Engineering Campaign), with support from Amazon UK, investigates women leaders in innovation routes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics organisations.
Innovation is critical to the UK economy. Companies with women involved in innovation outperform their peers in US studies. However, despite increases in firms studying STEM subjects, few enter or stay in STEM careers, particularly in innovation. How is it that some women become leaders in STEM innovation? Could their experience provide information for other organisations to support increases in women STEM leadership?
To tackle these questions, a research team from the Business School carried out an extensive literature review before exploring the experience of 50 STEM Innovation leaders via telephone and personal interviews and analysing the results of a survey with 1,200+ women in UK innovation. Initial results show the importance of early life in shaping both interest in STEM and confidence in discovery but the practice and attitudes embedded in organizational culture is particularly important in supporting female STEM careers.
Starting in June 2018, the research from this project is expected to impact public and private organisations in their pursuit of STEM innovation. Amazon published a report for International Women’s Day 2019 and use the findings to inform a toolkit for other organisations to support an increase in women in STEM Innovation.
The project has now moved onto identifying gender economics related to these issues and to exploring female STEM entrepreneurs to determine if they show the same factors in their STEM career journeys.