Female Forward
Innovation ought to prioritize inclusivity

Women are gaining ground in a variety of social fields, but STEM careers and technology entrepreneurship remain under-explored areas.
mujeres stem
© aukidphumsirichat via Canva

According to ASEM's Radiography of Female Entrepreneurship 2023, only 1.6% of companies founded by women are in the technology sector, three times less than those led by men. Globally, female participation in business leadership roles is low, and parity is far from being achieved.

The importance of parity goes beyond political correctness; it implies recognizing that the participation of women and minority groups in science and technological entrepreneurship brings unique perspectives, often ignored by men because they do not have the same experiences or needs of their gender. For example, in fields such as medicine, the lack of focus on women's health has left symptoms and needs invisible.

In the economic sphere, women face the risk of being excluded in an increasingly technological future. Despite a 190% increase in tech-skilled workers between 2015 and 2017, only 22% of artificial intelligence professionals were women in 2018 globally.

In countries such as Argentina, Germany and Mexico, working conditions and lack of access to key roles present significant obstacles: beyond the disparate percentages in male and female students in STEM careers, it is also socio-cultural factors that are the main obstacles. Expectations of their role in society as caregivers or mothers reduce their ability to actively participate in the technology economy. They have more difficulty in obtaining investment and continue to face lack of time as a determining factor in the failure of their ventures.

Although Latin America (along with Central Asia) has achieved parity in the world of science and is above the world average, these women face a challenging reality: they are the lowest paid and least likely to be entrepreneurs in the sector. The drawback lies not in women's lack of interest in science, but in the structural, social and cultural barriers that hinder their advancement. These limitations translate into lower salaries, fewer opportunities for promotion to managerial positions and greater difficulties in starting their own businesses, as they receive lower investment compared to their male colleagues. Given this situation, efforts to achieve parity are the responsibility of all sectors: private, public and civil society. It is not enough to have inclusion programs in universities, but there must be a real commitment to actively promote the growth of women.

It is critical to break down the structural and cultural barriers that limit female participation in STEM and technology entrepreneurship. Beyond correcting the wage gap and providing equal opportunities, it is crucial to implement public policies designed to create an inclusive environment that provides targeted support for women aspiring to enter these sectors. Only in this way will we be able to take full advantage of the innovative and diverse potential that women can bring to the technological and scientific world of the future.