There's no shortage of studies that point to barriers facing women in the innovation and technology space. And there's plenty of evidence of the upside in closing the gender gap - from an estimated $10-$17 trillion lift to the global economy, to a 35 per cent higher return generated by women-led start-ups. These figures are cited in a 2017 UN study Making Innovation and Technology Work for Women.

What's been lacking is collective action to remove barriers unique to women in innovation. Thanks to seeds planted at the Inventures Women in Innovation dinner in June 2018, that obstacle is being erased.

SHEInnovates, an initiative of the UN, is launching its first pilot chapter in Alberta. Complementing the work of Alberta Innovates to catalyzing research and innovation in the province, the UN linkage is being forged by a small working group tasked to create a blueprint for chapters across the world.

The UN Women Global Coalition for Change promotes and celebrates women who are innovators and entrepreneurs. Its global unveiling of SHEInnovates takes place in NYC on International Women's Day and five Albertan women will be among the 100 to be highlighted there.

In-province, the movement is spearheaded by Calgarian Jennifer Koury with lead sponsorship from TransAlta Corporation, in partnership with academia, government and industry. The goals are to profile a diverse range of women innovating to create value in Alberta, brand Alberta as a hotbed for women-led innovation and be the gateway to a diverse range of global and local resources.

To that end, the chapter will profile women in Alberta throughout the year who serve as local role models through their efforts to:

  • Solve or progress a complex challenge
  • Contribute to Alberta's economy (jobs, global attention or investment)
  • Showcase Alberta by being a leader in their chosen field

SHEInnovates Alberta is online and will launch locally at the Glenbow Museum on March 18, 2019 and will convene again in Calgary during Inventures June 5-7th. Watch for #sheinnovatesAB updates on social media.

The 2030 agenda for sustainable development is anything but business as usual. We need not incremental change, but bold change. We need an earthquake that will tilt the system altogether, because little and incremental steps will not give us the world that we want.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women