Isabelle-Louise Aabel, EU Advisor at GCE NODE (left) and Femina Communication Advisor Marte Drageset, play key roles in the Interreg Europe project Femina.

GCE NODE plays a key role in Femina, a European project for increased female participation in high-tech industries.

“Femina partners believe that increased female participation can make high-tech SMEs more competitive. This belief, based on academic studies and practical experience, must become part of mainstream policy,” says Isabelle-Louise Aabel, EU Advisor at GCE NODE.

The gender gap is still visible in high-tech sectors in the European Union. Women represented 29% of entrepreneurs in 2014, and 32.5% of employees in high-tech manufacturing and knowledge-intensive services in 2015.

“This is not a fight for social inclusion. This is all about economic growth. Studies show that women’s specific skills can contribute to diversify and consolidate enterprises. Closing the gender gap could generate an 13% increase in EU GDP,” says Aabel.

In this context, Femina partners cooperate at an interregional level to reach their overall aim: To ensure that selected policy instruments are integrated with measures to promote female engagement in high-tech sectors.

Femina considers how to identify, implement, monitor and evaluate policy measures that break down barriers to female high-tech entrepreneurship, to employment and career progression in high-tech SMEs, and to the gender dimension of innovation in funding schemes for high-tech start-ups and SMEs.

“Femina’s main outputs are Action Plans, detailing these desired changes, which partners and selected stakeholders will implement and monitor over a 2-year period. The results of this implementation will benefit SMEs and the territory. An increase in female participation in high-tech entrepreneurship, employment and leadership should establish a culture of gender parity in these sectors, with impact on inclusive growth and regional competitiveness,” says Aabel.

The joint Action Plan will form the foundation for the regional Action Plans aimed at improving policy instruments for each individual region.

Femina, is an Interreg Europe project, in which seven regions across Europe participate. The regions are located in Norway, Sweden, Greece, Spain, Italy, Romania and The Netherlands.

GCE NODE is the communication partner in Femina. This entails coordinating all internal project communication, and platforms and tools concerning internal and external communication. Marte Drageset has been hired as a Communication Advisor for the project.

In addition to communication, GCE NODE will also coordinate the Advisory Board, which consists of NODE Eyde Women (NEW), Agder County Council, Center for Gender Equality at The University of Agder and Innoventus Sør. The Advisory Board’s project mandate is to share experience and give feedback to Femina regional project partners.