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WISE and Amazon announce consultation to help develop the next generation of female innovators

  • Call for all women working in STEM-focused industries to submit views in new consultation launched today on how to secure more women in the innovation economy by identifying practical actions industry can adopt immediately 
  • New research by WISE,commissioned by Amazon,aims to boost female representation in the UK innovation economy, following findings that women make up 23% of STEM occupations across the UK, but only 15% of management roles in science, engineering and technology 
  • Women in Innovation Advisory Committee established to provide expert insight and outline actions that can accelerate securing more women in senior level innovation roles across the UK  

WISE, the campaign for gender balance in science, technology & engineering, and Amazon,have today launched a new consultation and issued a call for participation from women working in STEM-focused roles, with the goal of creating a roadmap for increasing the number of women working in the innovation economy.

The consultation, also supported by the Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin Cambridge, will help inform a Women in Innovation report, combining qualitative and quantitative analysis to help better understand:

  • How and why women in innovation arrive at their careers
  • Monetise the contribution women are making to innovation in technology and the benefits it brings to business and the wider economy
  • Understand the motivation, drivers and sources of career inspiration amongst women innovating in tech
  • Identify key life-stage moments for women considering starting and/or leaving a career in innovation and how they navigated these challenges
  • Evaluate the impact of current policy initiatives on diversity in STEM industries and highlight where these can be strengthened
  • Explore how the language of innovation can be used to inspire women’s involvement in science, engineering and technology, suggesting practical actions for companies, universities and learned societies seeking to increase the participation of women in research and development.

Using these findings as a foundation, the report will build a roadmap for policymakers and companies across the UK to increase diversity in tech and develop the next generation of female tech leaders. 

“It’s clear that greater diversity in the workplace positively impacts output, business performance and profitability,” said Fiona McDonnell, Director of Consumer Retail, Amazon. “By delivering greater diversity, we can unlock a huge untapped potential and ensure the UK becomes the number one destination for innovation. As such, our aim is for the report to create a roadmap to securing more women in innovation-focused roles by identifying practical actions industry can adopt immediately.”

Throughout the summer, women in STEM-focused careers are invited to tell their story and contribute to the final Women in Innovation report – from those starting out in their careers to women in senior STEM-focused roles. The Women in Innovation report will be published early next year, providing policy recommendations designed to help drive change by addressing barriers and improving the representation of women in innovation.

The report’s recommendations will be supported and overseen by a newly created Women in Innovation Advisory Committee, made up of senior leaders from across industry, including:

  1. Fiona McDonnell, Director, Consumer Retail, Amazon (Chair)
  2. Bhavagaya Bakshi, CoFounder, C the Signs
  3. Beatrice Bigois, MD of EDF Energy, Customers Business
  4. Ishreen Bradley, Chief Inspiration Officer, Equality Pioneers
  5. Dr Helen Finch, Head of Research & Development, Jaguar Land Rover
  6. Simon Johnson, Director, Media, Amazon
  7. Lauren Kisser, Director S3, AWS
  8. Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive, Business in the Community
  9. Rikke Rosenlund, Founder and CEO, BorrowMyDoggy and non-executive director on WISE Board
  10. Mark Stewart, General Manager, Airbus UK

The research follows findings from WISE,which show that despite over 860,000 women in the UK working in STEM occupations – 23 per cent of STEM roles in the UK – women only account for 15 per cent of management roles in science, engineering and technology. Additionally, only 26 per cent of STEM companies have reached the voluntary target set in the 2015 Lord Davies review, recommending one third of Board roles in the FTSE 100 are occupied by women.

Helen Wollaston, WISE Chief Executive added: “It is so important that we highlight the huge contribution women make to UK innovation because for too long that contribution has in large part been untold. We’re doing this project to discover the modern day Marie Curies and use their stories to inspire girls to follow in their footsteps.”