Westphalian female inventors

WE! From the laboratory to small and medium-sized business: Westphalian women inventors. Analysis of the potentials and visualization of innovative women in regional innovation ecosystems.

Initial situation

Women are significantly underrepresented in certain innovation contexts: in 2016, for example, only approximately 4% of all patents in Germany were registered by females. Nevertheless, they do exist, the "female inventors," but they are rarely visible.

Also, because there is a lack of visible role models and promoters for innovative women in science, research and innovation, female inventors remain mostly unrecognized by society: their achievements and inventions are used in practice, but it is not uncommon for other actors to take over the external representation of the solutions developed. The role model function for other (potential) female innovators within the region is thus missing, although a positive image of innovative women in society helps to ensure that "being an inventor" is also perceived as a career goal for other women. A lack of visible role models for potential female innovators and implementers of innovations can thus lead to a weakening of Germany as a location for innovation in the long term, since the regional innovation potential is not being sufficiently used. 


This is the background to the WE! project. In a pilot project, both the innovation context in which women are active and the roles of women in this context will be analyzed in a first step. In a second step and based on the findings, transferable measures and instruments for improving the visibility of innovative women in the regional innovation contexts will be developed as models, tested, evaluated with regard to the effectiveness achieved and made usable for other regions. Through the development of professional communication strategies and the implementation of suitable communication measures, WE! will make a concrete contribution to increasing the awareness and perception of innovative women and their achievements in Westphalia by the end of the funding period. Making these female innovators and inventors visible and presenting them is intended to encourage other women to follow similar "inventor" career paths and to implement and realize their innovative ideas. In addition, the project aims to strengthen the innovative power of the Ruhr region as well as of the Münsterland.

The WE! project is based on a broad concept of innovation that takes into account not only technical product and process innovations, but also service and social innovations. Thereby, the entire diversity of innovative women’s’ achievements is taken into account.

Duration & Project Partners

The BMBF-funded research project "WE! From the laboratory to small and medium-sized business: Westphalian women inventors. Analysis of the potentials and visualization of innovative women in regional innovation ecosystems" has a total duration of three years and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research part of the funding initiative "Innovative Women in Focus".

The project is led by Professor Kerstin Ettl (Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, Chair of Business Administration, in particular Management with regard to Gender and Diversity) and supported by an interdisciplinary project consortium within the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, which combines the expertise of the "Institute for Innovation Research and Management" (ifi) and the "Institute for Journalism and Public Relations" (JPR). The cooperation with many project partners from the region ensures an economic and scientific exploitation of the findings as well as a structural anchoring of the results after the end of the funding.

Further information on the project can be found here: www.w-hs.de/we.


Contact and contact person:

Contact address: we(at)w-hs.de

M.Sc. Julia Voß (Project Coordinator, Research Associate)
Department of Economics and Information Technology
T +49 (0)234 915923-0
E-Mail: julia.voss(at)w-hs.de

M.Sc. Raphael Brüne (Research Associate)
Institute for Innovation Research and Management
T +49 (0)234 915923-0
E-mail: raphael.bruene(at)ifi-ge.de

M.A. Clara Meyer zu Altenschildesche
Department of Computer Science and Communication
T +49 (0)234 915923-0
E-mail: clara.meyerzualtenschildesche(at)w-hs.de

Supported by:

Funding initiative: Focus on innovative women

Project duration: August 2021 - July 2024


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