The Aalto Women in Business Students network was established in 2015, but a year later the name of the network was changed to Women of Aalto (WoA). The student organisation Teekkaritytöt (Girls in Technology) merged to the network two year later, in 2017–2018. The network mainly includes current Aalto students, but Aalto alumni may also join the community. Due to the network’s background, the members are mainly students of the School of Business and the schools of technology, but recently students from the School of Arts, Design and Architecture have also been getting involved. The Women of Aalto network is an AYY student organisation.
‘From time to time we always get asked if men can also be members. The answer is yes. There aren’t very many of them at the moment, but the doors are open to all those interested in promoting equality. The core of our activities involve organising events and participating in political panels, and we also occasionally provide sparring and consultation to the AYY Board on the promotion of equality issues. This means that all volunteers can find something to do,’ says Eve Haavisto, President of the Network.
Pink Ribbon Gala by Women of Aalto to be held together with the Finnish Cancer Foundation
On 25 October, the Women of Aalto network will be holding the Pink Ribbon Gala together with the Finnish Cancer Foundation. WoA wants to be involved in sharing information on how organisations can support people with breast cancer. Even young people suffer from breast cancer, and it is important that workplaces understand how to support those suffering from this condition. According to several researches, e.g. Minna Nurmi's thesis (in Finnish), it is all too common for such people to find themselves receiving unequal treatment in their work community.
‘It feels like we’re having a real social influence by organising the gala, because we are seeking to get around 100 influential people to come along by selling tickets one-to-one to companies and other organisations. Two thirds of the money from each ticket, so €200, is given towards the Cancer Foundation’s Pink Ribbon fundraising campaign. The gala’s partnering organisations are KONE, the City of Espoo and Norrhydro. The crypt of Helsinki Cathedral has been booked for this evening event, which will be hosted by Janina Fry. We are trying to boost the total amount raised through the Pink Ribbon Gala by also selling patches’, explains Haavisto and also Ida Parkkinen and Yana Jakimtchouk, two other members who have played an active part in organising the gala. Haavisto and Jakimtchouk are students at the School of Business, while Ida Parkkinen studies bioinformatics at the School of Electrical Engineering.
Yes, we can!
Those that are part of the WoA network are united by a desire to do things with an attitude that says ‘Yes, we can!’.
‘I feel that we receive support from our community and, while working life can otherwise often feel very male-driven, in this group we get to share experiences and discuss best practices for how each person can try to increase diversity at the workplace. I myself work in the IT industry, where I have experienced this kind of male-driven atmosphere’, says Jana Jakimtchouk.
Eve Haavisto, the President of the network this year, stresses that Women of Aalto is primarily there for its members.
‘We listen carefully to our members' wishes and suggestions. The needs and wishes of our members vary and the events we organise change accordingly. The programme has included storytelling coaching led by Bruce Oreck (photo below), well-being events such as a yoga retreat, and most recently a summer "pool party" where people first heard talks and did group work and then chilled out in the pool at the end of the day.
Membership of the Women of Aalto network is free of charge. The members elect a management team from among themselves for each calendar year. The network has around 250 registered members, but active communication in social media channels and newsletters reaches thousands more.
Further information and tickets to the Pink Ribbon Gala:
Text: Terhi Ollikainen