faculty & experts
07 February 2022

The Gender Centre’s EQUALS-EU Project: Bridging the Digital Gender Divide

Despite considerable and important advances, and unparalleled achievements by women and girls, a huge gender gap persists at all levels of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, globally.

Since 2021, the Graduate Institute’s Gender Centre, led by Principal Investigator Claire Somerville and Research Assistant Carolina Earle, and under the aegis of the EU Horizon 2020 funded EQUALS-EU project, has put its momentum behind tackling this divide.

The EQUALS-EU project will cultivate a new generation of women inventors who are skilled and empowered to address the economic, social, and cultural roots of gender inequality that affect each stage of their lives. 

Already in 2021, the Gender Centre led EQUALS-EU’s appraisal of Swiss gender equity social innovation ecosystems (a process that took place across 22 countries). In addition, in collaboration with the Institute’s Technology and Security student initiative and the Professional Development Committee, the EQUALS-EU team hosted expert talks on gender bias in technology, and the power of innovation, respectively. With the collaboration of Professor Thomas Biersteker, the Centre also engaged master students taking the “Global Governance and Regulation: Actors and Processes” course to suggest new policy solutions for tackling the gender digital divide, resulting in 56 powerful position papers. Finally, a partnership was coordinated between the Institute’s EQUALS-EU and ITU Girls in ICT Teams.  

Now, with the help of an incredible group of Graduate Institute master students, who form the Institute’s EQUALS-EU Young People’s Working Group, work is underway to prepare the EQUALS-EU Innovation Camp. This Innovation Camp will be dedicated to eliminating barriers to sustainable gender equity in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector. 

Guiding participants through innovation processes, the Innovation Camp will culminate with participating teams pitching their new policy or process solution to a panel of experts who will select one winning team. The winners will receive the opportunity to develop their work into a start-up. 

Finally, in order to continue to engage women holding intersectional identities and who experience multiple forms of disadvantage beyond 2023, EQUALS-EU is set to establish an NGO and network of committed entrepreneurs, innovators, start-ups, businesses, and the like dedicated to promoting gender balance in the ICT sector. 

As such, by 2023, EQUALS-EU will have substantively involved 240 women and girls as co-innovators in creating new solutions for gender equity and digital inclusion; developed the proficiency of at least 60 women and girls in managing innovation and business development processes; appraised gender equity social innovation ecosystems in 22 countries, and used its learning to develop two new purpose built Gender Equity Tools for Digital Inclusion to inform policy and create new business practices in 15 European Union, EU Member States, and Associated Countries. 

We encourage anyone, from all walks of life, interested in this complex and important issue, and committed to workshopping new solutions and new inclusive futures to explore our website, Instagram, contact us at, and, importantly, sign up for our April Innovation Camp (applications will open in February).