IGL for Equal

By Eszter Czibor and Meg Doherty on Thursday, 5 March 2020.

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

Our team at the Innovation Growth Lab is quite international, but there is one thing we all shared growing up, whether we went to school in Germany, Spain, Hungary or the UK: our school textbooks almost exclusively featured straight, white men. They were the heros, poets, artists, scientists and revolutionaries - women, and especially people with different sexual or gender identities were largely invisible. The imprint of this “training” is surprisingly hard to delete: we catch it creeping back as we default to names of men in our internal conversations on speakers to invite or researchers to work with. To challenge our implicit bias and to remind ourselves that brilliance and genius have no gender, we asked the members of our team to nominate women who inspire them. Marieke, James, Eszter, Hugo and Lou share their answers in this blog post to celebrate International Women’s Day. 

Marieke Goettsch, Senior Policy Manager: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author 

“Chimamanda is an amazing Nigerian author and active campaigner for equal gender rights, the LGBTQ movement and women empowerment and has been a pioneer in bringing these topics on the agenda in Nigeria and many other African countries. In case you haven't seen it yet, here's a super influential TedTalk contributing to the discussion around feminism "We should all be feminists" she gave a few years ago. Her other famous talk, "Danger of a single story" is a very personal story about her upbringing in Nigeria and becoming a writer, where she criticises the under-representation of so many cultures in Western public discourse and warns that we so often create a perception of a person or country based on only a single story and how this leads to a completely biased perception of reality.” 

James Phipps, Head of Economic Analysis and Policy Development: Lorraine Dearden, Economist, Institute for Fiscal Studies

“When we decided to draw up a list of the women who have inspired us my immediate thought was of Rachel Glennerster and Esther Duflo. Their work on experimental economics and the development of J-PAL being a constant source of inspiration for IGL. However, I then reflected on my career before IGL and remembered being an avid reader of Lorraine Dearden's research on social mobility and the returns to education. It was her work evaluating the Educational Maintenance Allowance that opened my ideas to policy evaluation: the range of approaches that can be applied and all the interesting methodological and data challenges to be faced. Years later I joined an evaluation workshop that Lorraine ran at BIS (UK’s Department for Business and Industrial Strategy) which provided me with new tools and fresh inspiration to see what I could do to raise the quality of the evaluations I supervised.”

Eszter Czibor, Principal Researcher: Lisa D Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations, Michigan State University

“My nominee is Dr Lisa D. Cook, for both professional and personal reasons. Her research on African American and women inventors fills an important data gap in a field that still too often operates under the assumption that entrepreneurship and innovation are activities undertaken by white men. She also works really hard to make the economic profession more welcoming to women and to people of color, speaking up about her experience as a Black woman in this space and amplifying the voices of others. When I was a postdoc in an econ department that was full of brilliant professors but had few senior female role models, voices like hers calling for more diversity in the profession meant so much to me. And if that wasn’t enough for inspiration, Dr. Cook loves languages: besides English, she has learned French, Latin, Russian, Spanish, and Wolof!”

Hugo Cuello, Researcher: Carole Cadwalladr, journalist, The Guardian

“My candidate is Carole Cadwalladr, the reporter and investigative journalist who lead the research about Cambridge Analytica. Last year she was in the spotlight after an amazing TED talk and she was one of the main characters in the Netflix documentary "The Great Hack". I really recommend this fascinating article about how she is changing journalism and the way we see Facebook and data privacy.”

Lou-Davina Stouffs, Research and Programme Manager: Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School

"As one of the pioneers of science & technology studies - having set these programmes up at Cornell and Harvard - Sheila Jasanoff has spent a lot of time analysing the relations between science and technology, and law, politics, and culture in democratic societies. She is prolific in her field, authoring over 15 books and hundreds of articles. We are delighted that Sheila will be a keynote speaker at IGL2020, where she’ll be speaking to us about new ethical and political problems arising at the frontiers of emerging technologies."