Woman in Innovation:Francesca Maclean
"Gender should not determine your opportunities, happiness, or career progression."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?
Since moving to Melbourne at the start of this year, I am working with a friend in the engineering industry on developing a new approach to driving change for gender equity in STEM within workplaces, universities, and schools. Our key requirement is that impactful, sustainable change is achieved – and that we don’t just leave people with a warm and fuzzy feeling for a day and then things go back to the status quo. After spending years working on Fifty50 based at the ANU, I am back at the start of the innovation cycle in articulating the problem and ideating!

Why is innovation important to you?
Innovation can be very buzz-wordy, but for me it is doing something new/better/differently – and as a champion for diversity, I think that can only be a good thing! I think it is important that we make innovation (and the associated funding, support etc.) accessible to more people as historically our world and the things within it have been designed from select perspectives which have not accurately represented the diversity of people and their needs in our world.

What drives you to make a difference?
My work has been driven by reflections on my own experience in engineering, and my subsequent understanding of the cultures, systems, and processes that dictated my experience. My current and previous work has been focused on improving the experiences of those coming after me in STEM – gender should not determine your opportunities, happiness, or career progression.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
Women have no shortage of ideas, persistence, or grit – however, we need to make sure that they have equitable access to the networks, funding, support and infrastructure that their male peers do. And that means that yes, sometimes we have to do things differently because the way we have always done things does has not necessarily been the right way.

Oh, and make sure there is diverse representations of gender, cultures, ages etc. in all promotional material. Presenting a view that innovation is ‘all-male’ makes people think it is just that.

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