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Gender and innovation: state of the art and a research agenda

Gry Agnete Alsos (University of Nordland, Bodø, Norway)
Elisabet Ljunggren (Nordland Research Institute, Bodø, Norway)
Ulla Hytti (Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 23 September 2013




The purpose of this article is to present a framework for research on gender and innovation. The framework is developed based on a review of the current literature in the area; it is applied to provide a context for the articles in this special issue and to offer suggestions for future research.


The article relies on a literature review of gender and innovation. Additional literature searches on Scopus were conducted to provide an overview of the area. In addition, comparative analogies are sought from research fields of gender and entrepreneurship as well as gender and technology.


The article presents the scope and issues in the current research on gender and innovation. Based on the overview, research in this area is conducted in various disciplines applying a variety of methodological approaches. In order to make sense of the current research, the paper developed a framework consisting of various approaches to, gender and innovation; these include gender as a variable, construction and process and innovation as a result, process and discourse.

Research limitations/implications

Based on the review, several recommendations for future research are made. First, future research should question the connection between technology and innovation and purposefully seek innovation activity also in low-tech and service sectors and firms. Innovation scholars and policy makers should not primarily target radical and product innovations but should be equally interested in incremental and process innovations. Second, understanding women's innovation activity needs to be embedded in understanding the normative frames and structural factors at play. A particular theoretical call is linked to the study of power and innovation. Third, it is imperative to develop and apply new methodological approaches and new operationalizations of innovation and innovators.

Practical implications

By focusing on gender and innovation, it is possible to discover innovation as a gender biased phenomenon. Policy makers should bear this in mind when developing innovation policies.

Social implications

An understanding of innovation literature and innovation policy as gender biased has important social implications. Discovering gendered structures is important to further develop gender equal societies. Further, innovation may be hampered by biases in the understanding of the concept, including gender biases.


This introductory article puts forward a framework on gender and innovation that helps to make sense of the current state-of-the-art and to develop new research questions that need to be addressed for further theorising within the field.



Agnete Alsos, G., Ljunggren, E. and Hytti, U. (2013), "Gender and innovation: state of the art and a research agenda", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 236-256.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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