Feminine Future

Finland’s first Women in Tech seminar took place on October 15th, 2013. Over 500 women and men were present to hear from industry leaders about how women may play a larger role in the future of business and technology.

“The future of the technology business is feminine,” reads the first line of the Women in Tech 2013 program, and Ensto board member Marjo Miettinen is the first to acknowledge the past hasn’t been easy.

“When the CEO saw there were two female guests in attendance, he quickly revised the meeting’s agenda,” she recalls of visit to a Hungarian power company a few years back. “One hour was allotted for negotiations and the balance of the day for sightseeing. The negotiations ended up lasting seven hours!”

To help improve the workplace at a faster pace, Ensto’s Marjo Miettinen, KONE’s Anne Stenros and Mervi Karikorpi of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, founded Women in Tech, whose first conference took place this year.

“We put up a link and after two days we had 100 people registered for the seminar,” says Miettinen. “After two or three months we were fully booked and closed the link with more than 500 people signed up.”

Asked why the future of the tech business is feminine, Miettinen replies that the two genders approach problems in different fashions.

“Let’s say you have a target and are discussing how to reach it. The woman thinks, ‘Who are the best people to reach this objective?’ The man thinks, ‘Do we have money? How much do we need?’ The fact is that if we have both thought processes at the table, then we can reach the target much faster.”

“I remember when my father [Ensto founder, Ensio Miettinen] said that it’s not possible to have a woman in a leadership position. ‘They get pregnant,’ he stated. He thought like this. He eventually hired a woman for a leadership position and after one year she was pregnant! But it was not a problem, because she had learned the organization, had learned how to schedule time. My father then changed his mind.”

Miettinen notes that this history is not the ancient past: “It was not long ago that our attitudes toward women were entirely different.”

Author: Scott Diel