Young women want to find their way into careers in technology—high school students rushed to book the new event Shaking up Tech full in an hour
According to the international PISA study, Finnish girls rank second in the world in math and science. However, they are also the least interested in having careers in technology. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, that is due to both a lack of practical experience and being unsure on the relevance of science and technology.
At Shaking up Tech, inspiration and mentoring will be provided by Aalto University alumni and professors. The speakers include programmer and author Linda Liukas, Annu Nieminen from the Upright Project, Hanna Nikkilä from Microsoft, as well as Professor of Energy Technology and Energy Economics Sanna Syri, Professor of Statistics Pauliina Ilmonen and project manager of CodeBus Africa Irena Bakić from Aalto University.
In the workshops, high school students will get diverse hands-on experience from building coin-cell batteries all the way to designing mobile applications and digital services. Afterwards, they will be introduced to a wide variety of study options and will meet Shaking up Tech’s partner companies.
Shaking up Tech is organised by Aalto University’s four schools of technology. Development Manager Marja Niemi and Coordinator Sara Ikonen want to dismantle both the prominent gender bias in the Finnish technology industry and gendered prejudices about proper study and career paths.
‘Many students in upper secondary schools are still uncertain about their career dreams, and opinions of friends and impressions may strongly affect their choices. For young women, friends and role models in the field of technology are rare. Also, it might not be so obvious that by having a career in technology you can do good and affect people’s lives,’ Marja Niemi says.
Only a fifth of technology students in Finland are women, and the percentage decreases the further an academic or a business career progresses.
‘Tech companies are well aware that teams made up of different genders and cultural backgrounds achieve better results. The same goes for research and management’, Sara Ikonen says.
Keynote speaker at Shaking up Tech Linda Liukas encourages high school students to be bold and adventurous in their studies and career choices. Liukas herself left her studies in economics to join Aaltoes, the student-run entrepreneurial incubator, and took on studies in venturing and visual journalism.
‘If life had turned out to be as linear as I thought when I was 19, I would be doing things nowhere near as fun as I do now,’ Liukas believes.
I’d like to know more about renewable energy, and dye solar cells with natural colours
Hands-on tinkering with solar cells, blueberries and heart rate monitors
Sonja Nurmiainen from a high school in Lappeenranta, will take up a workshop making solar cells from different components dyed with blueberries.
‘I have already participated in the Going Solar project related to solar cells at school. Now I’d like to know more about renewable energy, and dye solar cells with natural colours,’ Nurmiainen says.
She sees the field of technology as diverse and constantly changing, but finds it difficult to get information about career opportunities and different options. Nurmiainen suspects that days at work are hardly ever the same in technology.
‘I would like to have a discussion with Professor of Energy Technology and Energy Economics Sanna Syri. She’s bound to have interesting tips on how to find my way into the field of energy.’
Emmi Eronen from Ristiina, says that she would need more first-hand information on study opportunities and the kind of career options a degree in technology will open up. She intends to participate in a workshop constructing and programming a heart rate monitor.
‘I’m interested in how technology can affect health. I play football, and many of my team mates use heart rate monitors. I want to find out how they actually work.’