Are men more innovative than women?
The answer is no. The common mistake in this debate is to solely think of innovation as inventions, new businesses and new ideas. When you think along these lines, global entrepreneurs of past and present begin to come to mind such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Global female entrepreneurs do not seem to get the same praise, which adds confusion to the question I pose. If you google ‘Entrepreneur’, you will see what I mean by this – a male-dominated page of images.
Additionally, innovation can take many different forms and it is not just starting a business. We must not pigeonhole ourselves into thinking that these public figures of entrepreneurship mean that men are the more innovative sex. What about the 88% of female primary school teachers and 62% of female secondary school teachers who are generating innovative lessons for our leaders of tomorrow? Are men more innovative than women? The answer is no. The definition of innovation is so broad that neither sex can stake a claim on it as its own.
On the social media platform of my company, two-thirds of the ideas posted have come from men. Men have contributed double the amount of ideas, which isn’t altogether a surprising statistic. From my experience, men are more vocal. They share ideas quicker than women do. They might even prefer quantity over quality. If innovation was defined as, “Who generates more ideas?”, then on the evidence we have, this would state that men are clearly more innovative. However, as I pointed out in my opening paragraph, innovation is not and should not be defined like this.
Is innovation just about idea origination? Or is it about the contribution and thinking behind it, which takes an idea and makes it a better one? Of course, it is. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is a great example. Mark Zuckerberg is accredited with the origins of the idea behind Facebook; however, Sandberg has been instrumental in making Facebook the giant it is today. After meeting Zuckerberg in 2007 and spending some time together at the World Economic Forum in January 2008, she soon left Google for Facebook. She carved their strategy to focus on profit for the first time, which despite their turbulent valuation is something they have achieved. Sandberg now oversees the firm’s business operations including Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Human Resources, Public Policy and Communications. Arguably, she is the CEO of Facebook. Arguably, she is more innovative than Zuckerberg himself. Arguably, women could be said to be more innovative.
Are men more innovative than women? The answer is no. Although countless men easily spring to mind of great innovative people, so do countless women. We must not brush off the fact that innovation can take many forms. We must realise that innovation is not just about idea generation. We must not be oblivious to the fact that innovation is not just about the quantity of ideas. Neither sex can take victory in the debate of innovation but can continue to look for ways to contribute to the global search for more innovative ideas, more innovative business and more innovative ways to live our everyday lives.