Several studies show that an equal workplace characterized by diversity contributes to well-being, boosts creativity and innovativeness and enhances corporate competitiveness. In the Gender Smart Arena project, an industry that is traditionally man-dominated – the IT industry – is in focus. If the industry should continue to grow, the traditional gender patters need to be broken. IT development affects everyone and people's skills, regardless of sex, age and origin need to be taken into better consideration.
– Companies and other actors often ask for research-based knowledge, tools and methods related to business development and practical gender mainstreaming, says Paula Wennberg.
– IT companies sell their products and services to both women and men, and therefore it is obvious that both women and men should develop them. Furthermore, it is important that both men and women have equal opportunity to influence the future's IT development. In the long run, gender equality creates more business and growth.
The Gender Smart Arena project aims to strengthen the cooperation between SMEs, universities and the public sector, focusing on practical gender mainstreaming. Th gender mainstreaming will result in enhanced innovation capacity and increased competitiveness. A collaborative arena and meeting place between actors with different backgrounds will widen the perspective of innovation and how new innovative gender-conscious business models can strengthen business development.
– A gender-conscious business model invokes norm-critical and norm-creative development of the business model and its various parts to develop opportunities for value creation. The goal of gender mainstreaming is to go from an old business model to a new business model, both in thought and action, says Paula Wennberg.
Exchange between universities and companies
Hopefully, companies within the male dominated IT industry should be able to use gender equality and diversity as a strategic tool in business and business development. The companies involved in the project will get acquainted with the knowledge development at the university, for example through workshops and seminars, and get the opportunity to use tools that drive the company's development towards increased gender equality.
– The university, in turn, will be able to take part of the business conditions and development needs. In the long run, the project contributes to a more inclusive and sustainable society that are attractive for both women and men, says Paula Wennberg.