Female talent: the key to activating Spain’s innovative takeoff

By Ainhoa Marcos, ODILO Education Country Manager Spain

Innovation represents one of the essential pillars for successfully achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It gives us the opportunity to make significant progress towards more efficient use of resources, develop sustainable business models and effectively address today’s societal challenges.

Contrary to what it may seem, Spain has an area for improvement in terms of innovation. While it is true that, as part of the West, European economies are at the technological forefront, the reality is that when we compare ourselves with our environment it becomes clear that we still have work to do. We currently rank 29th in the World Property Organization’s (WIPO) ‘Global Innovation Index 2023’. Almost twenty places behind a top 10 that includes neighbors such as Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, among others.

One of the aspects that we must address in order to lead the race for innovation is to reduce the present gender gap in fields related to science, digitalization and technology, fundamental sectors for the innovations that will allow us to build a more prosperous and environmentally friendly future. Making a firm commitment to the inclusion of female talent, as the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated every February 11 since 2015, reminds us, is crucial. 

According to the Observatory ‘The field of STEM does not attract female talent’ of the “la Caixa” Foundation, in our country women represent 16% of professionals in these fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics -. If we analyze the interest in these professions among younger women, the figures are even more discouraging, with only 0.7% of teenage girls interested in pursuing studies related to digital technologies, compared to 7% of male peers.

In this regard, there are already initiatives at the legislative level that aim not only to encourage digitalization in the educational sphere, but also to ensure that this process is carried out equitably, such as Component 19 of the National Digital Skills Plan. In addition, there are already communities and educational centers that are taking steps to address this gap, implementing more innovative approaches to engage students in STEM disciplines.

One way to foster STEM skills at different educational stages is, for example, by prioritizing learning experiences that include case studies, technical podcasts, informational materials and other resources that provide motivation for girls. A more engaging approach that can spark interest and take training beyond the confines of paper. Likewise, encouraging the use of the most cutting-edge technological innovations in the learning process. Artificial Intelligence, the metaverse and virtual and augmented realities are revolutionary forms of education in line with the times we live in, providing more attractive tools to arouse interest and facilitate a better assimilation of the contents by the new generations.

This evolution in education invites us to reflect as a society on the importance of involving female talent in innovation. Firstly, because of the wide-ranging benefits it brings in terms of diversity of perspectives. The increased representation of women among STEM professionals allows for a more enriched approach, which implies having other life experiences. This leads to more complete and holistic analyses, approaches and approaches with which to arrive at new findings.

It also encourages competitiveness, one of the drivers of innovation. The development of an ecosystem in which men and women work side by side makes it possible to set up more plural and diverse research groups and teams. It is increasing the number of professionals who, with different skills, are rowing in the same direction to accelerate the search for solutions to the challenges we face as a society.

And ultimately, because leaving women aside in the STEM sector is to underutilize the talent we have as humans by not involving half of our society. We only have to think of the significant contributions made by women scientists such as Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin or Dorothy Crowfoot to realize the need for the world of science, and with it technology and digitalization, to incorporate women throughout the innovative process.

In short, the achievement of the SDGs undeniably involves adopting an innovative approach to find ways to ensure positive change in society. And in doing so, promoting equity through female talent contributes to building an even more solid path.

Posted on: News