Less than one third of scientists and engineers in Finland are women. In the EU Member States, only Luxembourg has less female engineers than Finland does. The number of female doctoral graduates in Finland is growing every year. However, there are still three times less female PhD graduates than male ones. This needs to change. Companies and universities should encourage female high school students to go for a career in technology.
There is no such a thing that girls are naturally worse at tech than boys. They are worse because they are told so. The US researchers made an experiment. They assigned women into two groups. The first group was told they were being tested to see why men generally do better on math than women. The second group was simply told they were part of an experiment on math performance. The accuracy of women exposed to the stereotype was reduced from nearly 90% to about 80%.
To address this problem, Aalto hosted an event called Shaking Up Tech. 200 young women from high schools all over Finland were invited to participate in workshops, familiarize with studies in technology, and meet female tech influencers. The event was full in an hour. Hundreds and thousands of little girls were seeking for inspiration and mentoring by Aalto alumnis and professors. They needed to see more role models – successful female professors. They needed to see that by having a career in technology they could do good and affect people’s lives.
I am happy that traditional ideas on the roles of women and men are slowly fading away. I am glad that universities like Aalto organize events to encourage young women to go for tech. Engineering does not have to be a boys club.
Ekaterina Sakarinen (a female chemical engineer)