Do Women Believe They Are Innovative?

As I spend more time with women in technology across the country, I am amazed at their passion and energy for their craft. They are confident and dedicated to their career and aspire to be strong leaders in the future. 

As part of my research, I uncovered an interesting white paper which examines a number of important components for today’s professional women. One of the questions that seemed to rise from their research was a question of innovation. Do today’s women in technology see themselves as innovative?

In the report from Accenture/Glass Ceiling White Paper – Women in Technology: Leaders for Tomorrow I learned about a survey they conducted. The results provided a number of valuable pieces of information, one of which was the question of how women view themselves compared with how they view their leaders:

We interviewed almost 200 women working in technology roles, focusing primarily on junior and mid-level executives.

We wanted to investigate what traits women in technology believe leaders possess, and how their vision of today’s leaders compares to their perception of themselves. We provided a list of ten traits, and asked women to select the three most accurate to describe leaders, and later on, we asked them to pick three traits from the same list to describe themselves. The number one trait women identified as critical for leadership was “Collaborative,” which was also the number one trait respondents selected to describe themselves. But that’s where the similarities end.

While respondents were more likely to describe themselves as “honest” and “goal oriented” than today’s leaders, they were more likely to describe current leaders as “innovative” and “decisive” than themselves.  

Here is a copy of the chart that provides the results of the survey:

Click on the image to make it larger

Click on the image to make it larger

You can see from the results that the respondents saw their current leaders as innovative but it was the least likely way they would describe themselves. So that leads me to the question, do women believe they are innovative. The survey would suggest that the answer is no, so I looked a little further.

Entrepreneur Magazine just highlighted the 6 Innovative Women to Watch in 2015 – here is a synopsis from that article of these women:

Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED tackles hunger through commerce. Her New York-based consumer-goods company, FEED Projects, and its associated nonprofit, FEED Foundation, define success in terms of meals provided—85 million in seven years, the equivalent of roughly $11 million.

Cynthia Breazeal is enhancing the human experience through social technology. She is the founder and director of MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group recently took a leave of absence to launch Jibo, the first social robot designed for home use. She’s exploring what it means to bring high-tech, humanized robotics into our living rooms.

Ramona Pierson is a neuroscientist and CEO of education technology company Declara. She doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all world. Rather, she sees a future in which learning is personalized. She launched Palo Alto, Calif.-based Declara in 2012 to develop a technology platform that creates learning experiences based on a person’s user profile and interactions with data. 

Sangeeta Bhatia is a biotech engineer fights disease through innovation. The 46-year-old biomedical and mechanical engineer, physician, professor, inventor and entrepreneur has been anointed one of the most innovative young scientists worldwide and one of the 100 most creative people in business, to name just two of her accolades. The co-founder of biotech startups Zymera and Hepregen, she won the 2014 Lemelson-MIT Prize of $500,000 for her groundbreaking inventions in miniaturized biomedical technologies and youth mentorship.

Angela Lee won’t be satisfied until U.S. startup investment groups boast as many women among their ranks as men. Less than 20 percent of accredited angel investors in the U.S. are women, according to a report from the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. To help close the gap, Lee founded 37 Angels, an angel investment network based in New York City. Since 2012, the 50-member group has invested $50,000 to $200,000 in 25 startups, both female- and male-led.

Danielle Fong is the brightest new force in clean power storage and the 27-year-old co-founder and chief science officer of LightSail Energy. A junior-high dropout from Nova Scotia who began college at age 12 and started a Ph.D. program at Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory at 17, Fong left school just shy of her 20th birthday to move across the U.S. to Berkeley, Calif., with the aim of addressing the world’s energy crisis. The result, LightSail, is tackling the thorny issue of energy storage, “a problem that’s been around for literally a century,” says co-founder and CEO Steve Crane.

Read the entire article here: 6 Innovative Women to Watch in 2015

What is interesting about these women is that they range in age from 27 up and each tackle a different segment of our world. For those who believe everything that is going to be created has already been made; these women tell a different story.

The opportunity to be innovative abounds! But we have to be aware and see what is truly innovative. We might be surprised.

Ashley Good wrote an article, Are You Innovative and shares that she asked a group of entrepreneurs if they saw themselves as innovative and they all said no. She was shocked because she knew first hand that much of what they did in their careers was in fact, innovative. She concluded with this comment:

It occurs to me that not enough of us see the innovation in what we do everyday.  Perhaps we don’t see it precisely because making things better bit by bit, connecting concepts to create something new, and encouraging ingenuity in others is a part of our day to day activities.

Curious about how innovative you are? Take this quiz How Innovative Are You but don’t take the results too seriously. We all have the ability to be innovative in our thinking, actions and leadership!