The raison d'être of SmartAgriHubs is inclusive and exponential Agri-digital community and network building, showcasing Agri-digital innovation which leads to more sustainable and competitive European agriculture. In Innovation Experiments there has been a constant push to go farther: How can we innovate? What else can we discover? What can we re-use? Who else can we involve in this multi-actor ecosystem?
While many achievements are evident, a bit of self-reflection prompted a question: In our quest for inclusiveness and innovation, had we overlooked the obvious?
What about women in Agri-tech and their under-utilised wealth of knowledge and capacity?
On the premise that change begins from within, the project management teams of IoF2020 and SAH set up a Gender Task Force with two connected teams of communications and analysis. Some preliminary internal analysis was carried out in both projects. We found some uncomfortable truths. Only 14% of project coordinators were women within IoF2020.
Research teams in SAH consisted of 25% women. In total, women represented 21% in Use Cases and 32% in Innovation Experiments. All this, in spite of the fact that both project teams include women and men committed to gender balance.
How did this happen? And more importantly, what can be done?
Clearly, this is not an isolated or new issue. The Commission's study ‘Women in the digital age’ and the ‘Women in Digital initiative' found that few women participate in the digital sector. Only 24 out of every 1000 female tertiary graduates have an ICT related subject, of which only six go on to work in the digital sector.
This number is decreasing compared to 2011, so we cannot argue that time will deal with this issue. However, this study also found that if more women were to enter the digital jobs market, it could create an annual EUR 16 billion GDP boost for the European economy. McKinsey estimated a global amount of 12 trillion. Other studies have found that companies with gender balanced boards demonstrate better decision-making and that companies with more women in management have better financial performance.
It is time “to walk the talk”.
Our Gender Task Force sets out a path for the wider Agri-tech community, providing analysis, sharing information and consolidating various resources and initiatives, good practices and metrics to measure. We have created this toolkit to move forward and find, share and connect innovative solutions.
We see this as a positive challenge that requires innovative thinking and a conscious effort to “connect the dots” in an inclusive manner. In this toolbox we will share more news and results, as well as opportunities for participation in a wide range of initiatives. Watch this space.