Are men more innovative than women?

Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg

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, men like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson immediately spring to mind. However innovation can take many forms and we must not pigeon hole ourselves into thinking that these public figures of entrepreneurship, mean that men are the more innovative sex. What about Margaret Thatcher? What about Anita Roddick (founder of Body Shop)? 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? What about the mums who every day of the week innovatively stretch budgets to go further in the home? Are men more innovative than women? The answer is no. The definition of innovation is so broad, that neither sex can claim victory to it.

www.7billionideas.com is still very much in its infancy and hasn’t collected enough interactions to be able to put forward a scientific opinion to whether or not there is a more innovative sex. In order to do this, the more profound question of, what is the definition of innovation, would need to be answered. We did however pass another major landmark this week – 17,000 ideas. What we do know, is that 64% of the ideas have come from men and 32% have come from women, with the rest coming from our growing group profiles.  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? 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. In September 2012, we introduced the ability to comment on ideas and have now racked up 7,000+ comments. Although I do not know the gender split, I would be very surprised if it was comparable to the amount of ideas contributed. I predict it to be more towards a 50/50 split, as our females users have contributed often through the ability to extend on ideas. E.g, Mrs Arding’s, ‘Quality Street Tins’ – http://www.7billionideas.com/idea/1721 – ‘You should be able to take the tins back and get some money or a discount on your next purchase’. This idea, led to 13 comments. The idea evolved to giving the money to charity, to scrapping the tin and making them out of cardboard, to a full on money back scheme. 70% of these comments came from females. They helped make a good idea, a better idea. This is just one of countless examples on 7billionideas, but where else have female’s made an idea, a better one?

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is a great example. Mark Zuckerberg is accredited with the origins of the idea behind Facebook (although I am sure a couple of famous twins will have an opinion on this), however, Sandberg has been instrumental to 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, something, 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 not ignore that innovation isn’t 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. I believe by sharing and interacting on every day ideas, all of us will gradually think and become more innovative in everything we do. I believe the problem is that many people do not understand how innovative they are, because they consistently forget their ideas or do not understand what innovation is. If you haven’t already, please do check out www.7billionideas.com today. You can start becoming a little more innovative by contributing to other people’s ideas with a like, dislike or comment. Whatever you do – Don’t forget your innovative ideas

 

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