Innovation is vital in any business, but are men more innovative than women? When first confronted with this question, most people ignorantly would say yes, of course they are, however this is not strictly the case. Innovation has several definitions and although generally the word has initial connotations with great ideas, new businesses and entrepreneurial success, there is a lot more to innovation than this. Original thoughts bring to mind many successful men such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Bill Gates but they were not the only people who used innovation effectively. What about women such as Margret Thatcher, Sylvia Pankhurst and JK Rowling? These women have also shown streaks of innovation success and there are many, many more.
Why do we assume men are more innovative than women?
It is believed that these assumptions are made due to the fact that the male-dominated industries in business generally require more skills in innovation management. Now-a-days the number of women in business is, in fact, increasing; has this had an effect on the female ability to innovate better than first anticipated? Have they been able to innovate all along? Are they more or less innovative than men?
What are the differences in the ways that men and women innovate?
The London Business School, The Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business, presented a study titled ‘Innovative Potential: Men and Women in Teams.’ Their research delved deeper into the hypothesis about innovation amongst the different sexes and found that men and women actually innovate in different ways. This almost makes it harder, in a sense, to define which sex is the most innovative. Listed below are the most apparent differences between the way in which men and women innovate.
What other indications are there that women are innovative?
It is not necessarily just the workplace where people are innovative. Some great ideas, put forward by David Harkin, suggested that many women express their innovation in other ways. For example, they need to be thrifty and innovative with money in order to make their income stretch far enough to support the family. There are also female professions where innovation is key; for example, the 88% of female primary school teachers and 62% of female secondary school teachers. They have to constantly come up with new interesting ways to engage the pupils in their education.
It is noticeable that men are very much more capable and intrigued by new technologies than women, which is perhaps how they managed to claim the reputation for being the most innovative, as the technology sector produces the most visible representation of innovation management. Also, in a group discussion men have the confidence to put forward loads and loads of ideas; this doesn’t make them the best. Women don’t always demonstrate the same self-confidence in their ideas, and often don’t produce masses of them, but the ones they do produce are far more refined and usable.
At the think team we aim to encourage everyone to innovate in the best way possible, using our fantastic home-grown techniques and methods to enhance the direction and refinement of ideas. It is difficult to define if men are more innovative than women but it has been proven by the London Business School, that a 50:50 mix of male and females in a team environment is the best combination. What are your thoughts from previous experiences?
This is a great blog by David Harkin: http://davidjharkin.com/2013/01/11/are-men-more-innovative-than-women/