Women in Science and Innovation

Ms Heidi M Dahl, Innovation Norway

Dr Elisabeth Ljunggren, Nord University

Ms Nomso Faith Kana, Sun n Shield 84 Technologies

Ms Kirsti L Slotvik, Norwegian Coastal Administration

Ms Ipeleng Selele, Khumo Group

Ms Trine Skymoen, Royal Norwegian Embassy


Women are clearly underrepresented in innovative, knowledge-based industries, and the gender gap in e.g. patenting is closing all too slowly. One of the reasons is social and cultural obstacles experienced by women pursuing careers in scientific research and technology environments. This session will address such challenges in a south-north (rather than the traditional east-west) perspective – starting by collecting relevant research data on gender inequalities as a baseline for discussions – then proceed with real-life examples of successful, female entrepreneurs in Europe and in Africa – before engaging the panelists and the audience in distilling recommendations for reducing the gender gap in science and innovation.

Ms Heidi M Dahl, Innovation Norway, Norway

Heidi Dahl is the  Director for  South Africa at Innovation Norway – Norway’s official trade, technology and tourist office. In this capacity, she is also the Commercial Counsellor at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria.She has worked in  global leadership  roles in Europe, USA and Africa for the last 30 years, including public sector, bank and finance, publishing, media, transport, international travel industry and has also been instrumental in successful company start ups. Heidi is passionate about  innovation and  promoting  women in business,  and has initiated several  professional women’s network which aim to both celebrate and strengthen gender diversity across sectors.

Dr Elisabeth Ljunggren,Nord University, Norway

Professor Elisabet Ljunggren is currently with the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nord University in Norway, where she also serves as the Vice Dean for Research and Development. Previously, she worked 25 years at Northern Research Institute (www.norut.no), of which 8 years as a manager for the research group on entrepreneurship, innovation and regional development. She has been doing research with a gender perspective on entrepreneurship, innovation and policies related to these issues for the last 25 years.

Professor Ljunggren has published a number of articles and book chapters both in Norway and internationally, including in high-ranked journals such as Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice and Entrepreneurship & Regional Development. She has been a guest co-editor on a special issue on gender and innovation in the International Journal on Gender end Entrepreneurship (2013), a co-editor of the The Research Handbook on Gender and Innovation published by E. Elgar (2016), and she recently led a 3 year long research project on Gender and Innovation in Norway (“GENINNO”) funded by The Research Council of Norway.

Professor Ljunggren is serving on the Norwegian Governments Committee on Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (http://kifinfo.no/en) and has engaged in issues on gender balance in research institutions, implementation of gender perspectives in research and knowledge production. In addition, she has led the Kif-committees work on diversity in academia.

Elisabet Ljunggren has a large international network, She is an experienced research project manager, she has served on the board of directors for businesses, and she has undertaken a variety of academic tasks, such as serving as a reviewer for research journals and conferences, being opponent for PhD-theses, expert evaluator for research funds and serving at organizing committees for research conferences such as RENT (2011), NCSB (on-going) BCERC (2016), and Diana (2016).

Ms Nomso Faith Kana,Sun and Shield 84 Technologies, South Africa

Miss Nomso Kana is a Nuclear scientist by trade and working as an entrepreneur in the ICT and broadband infrastructure sector. In 2014 she was appointed as a South African Delegation leader for the World Sustainable Energy Forum based in Vienna Austria, contributing towards sustainable solutions in mobility, energy, environment, waste management and community for cities around the globe. A mentor for the Emzingo Fellowship Programme, a programme that targets MBA scholars from top business schools across North America and Europe who annually visit South Africa to do management consulting.  She serves as a board member at various organisations in waste management, mining and minerals and startup development.

Apart from her professional work, she was elected as one of the top 80 emerging leaders in science and technology in Africa and the Middle East and participated in TechWomen in 2013, an exchange program for women in STEM fields initiated by the former secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton. She drives UN Women Southern Africa endorsed programs that empower women and the girl child in the SADC. She is serving as a Programme director for Taungana Africa, a non-profit movement that provides high school girls from rural and extremely underexposed sub-Saharan communities with world-class access platform and exposure to education and career options in STEM (science, technology, engineering/entrepreneurship and mathematics). Founded in 2013, the movement contributes to equal representation in STEM fields by developing programs that address socio-economic and gender barriers to engagement in these fields. In addition, Nomso has been a Regional director for the Technovation Challenge Programme in South Africa for 3 years, where she works with approximately 50 girls annually where she teaches programming and mobile application development skills. Technovation challenge tasks girls to employ technology to solve societal challenges through technology applications and offers skills to emerge as tech entrepreneurs.

Ms Kirsti L. Slotsvik,Norwegian Coastal Administration, Norway

Kirsti Lovise Slotsvik has served as the Director General of the Norwegian Coastal Administration since 2007.

She has a master in Landscape Architecture and her special field of expertise has been assessment studies and technical planning of infrastructure. Leadership has been her main field for the last 15 years, where she is known to work in front of innovation as a changing factor of organisations.

She is holding a number of national and international board positions, both as part of her job and in private. They are ranging from international technical standards, healthcare, space technology to football.

Ms Ipeleng Selele, Khumo Group, South Africa

Khumo specializes in foreign market entry strategies, that ensures ease of business operations and transactions in Africa and emerging markets.

Ms Selele recently played an instrumental role in conceptualising, developing and implementing the key stakeholder engagement and training project that enhances South Africa’s global competitiveness. She is currently involved through a partnership in a digital television migration project across the continent.

She was also at the forefront of hosting together with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and Black Business Council (BBC), a series of preparatory business breakfast sessions for the private sector.

Ipeleng Selele holds a MSC (Master of Science) in International Marketing Strategy majoring in Foreign Market Entry Strategy from the University of London South Bank. In addition, Selele completed an African Leadership Executive Course from Oxford University as part of her TUTU Fellowship.

She is passionate about entrepreneurship development on the continent, and she is part of the Africa 2.0, Brand Africa initiative, and a business fellow for the Global Networks for Africa’s Prosperity.

Ms Trine Skymoen, Norway Royal Norwegian Embassy,Norway

Trine Skymoen is the Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, and Namibia. Prior to her current posting in Pretoria, Ms Skymoen has extensive international experience from Abidjan, Belgrade, Bratislava and, most notably, the United Nations in New York as well as the OSCE in Vienna.

Ms Skymoen has served many years with the Norwegian Government working with international affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister covering issues such as peacekeeping, humanitarian affairs, security policy, defense and the United Nations. In recognition of her work for the global community, she was honored with the title of “Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit” in 2015.