I tend to forget the reality in many software companies is predominantly male. That’s because Software engineers, Product Managers, Solution Consultants and other IT professionals, who also happen to be women, are a part of my everyday life. But according to The Finnish Software and E-business Association, only 10% of people being directly involved with software development in Finland are women. This is a problem for us women, who are way too little involved in the development of the services of our rapidly digitalizing world. And it is a problem for this business that lacks both diversity and employees in general.
This problem cannot be solved only by software companies trying to recruit more women. We need more women entering the fields of IT, software and tech. We need girls in high school to study advanced maths and physics, and we need young women to see software as a viable career option.
In the past few years, a lot has been written about how tech companies are toxic environments for women, and how bro culture flourishes in start-ups. If you read that news, it’s not really a wonder that women do not choose a profession in tech. It seems like a hard place to be as a woman. But most of that talk is about the situation in Silicon Valley. In my experience, the Finnish software business can be a good place to be.
And even though this is (for now) a very male-dominated area, I have found that many of the men in IT are quite feminist. I mean those kinds of husbands who take their wife’s name when they get married. Dads who take long paternal leaves to stay at home with their kids. Dads who leave work early in order to pick up their children from daycare. And most of all: Who do not think that women in the workplace are something special, or different.
Sievo’s International Women’s Day campaign wanted to point out that many of the early inventions in computer science were made by women, and that a few decades back, women were much more common in the industry than they are now. In light of this history, it seems hard to argue that the small percentage of women in IT is somehow “natural” and only due to statistical differences in abilities and interests between men and women.
I’m happy that in the past year, Sievo has managed to increase the percentage of women from 25% to 32%. Out our software developers, 27% are women. Even though this is still not perfect, we are making progress. I have also been happy to observe many great initiatives going on in the Finnish Software scene, such as hive Helsinki that aims to train software developers from zero without any requirements for past experience. The Finnish Software and E-business Association has also launched a developer training program for women only, called “Mimmit koodaa”. Already now, such initiatives are lowering the barrier for women to enter the field.
Encouraging women into tech careers & industries is the way to equality. So any women out there who are choosing what to study or considering a new line of career: Now is a good time to come to software business and tech in general. You are very wanted and welcome here.