In 2005 Marja-Terttu Tanttinen, established a fund to award (annually or every two years) girls and young women as good examples and role models and promote women in technology.
In 2011, the motto for selecting the winners of the prize was "the Women of the Future" and this year’s awards were announced by Marja-Terttu at the event organized by the Finnish National Point of Contacts (NPoC) of the ECWT (European Center for Women and Technology) at the TalentIT Career. In 2010 the winner was Qentinel Ltd, a Finnish IT company concentrating on software quality assurance and testing services for significant contribution in promoting women’s role in technology education. The award winner Qentinel is a leading company in the area and an exception in the IT industry since 2/3 of its founders and 75 % of the company’s management executives are women.
Irene: Marja-Terttu, what brought about the idea to set up the fund for women and technology?
Marja -Terttu: I have always been interested in technology and that is why I chose to study at the Technical University of Helsinki (now Aalto-University). I wanted to inspire and disseminate to today’s girls and young women, who have different perceptions and stereotypes about technological and related studies, that technology is fun and that I really enjoyed my student years which included many leisure and fun activities. Another reason for setting up the fund is that the percentage of girls and young women studying and working in technology or in related fields is still extremely low. So I needed to inform girls and young women of the vast opportunities offered in many technological fields today.
Irene: Is progress being made in Finland with regard to the women in technology agenda?
Marja-Terttu: Although we have had many successful projects in the past years to get more girls interested in technology, mathematics and technical studies, there is still much that needs to be done in changing attitudes, introducing study possibilities in comprehensive schools and high schools and opening working places for visits and guidance periods for girls and their teachers.
Irene: What European level measures would you propose to promote the women and technology agenda?
It would be more fruitful, concerning European level activities, to continue funding national and multinational projects with the following conditions: Firstly, the main results of the projects should also include the description and dissemination of good practices as well as a commitment to appropriate these processes and good practices into normal practice. Establishment, at an EU level, of a portal or a bank where people could easily find examples of good practices would be also of great value. The target group of these projects might be e.g. girls, their parents/grandparents and teachers in comprehensive schools and high schools.
(The good examples databank is already in the pipeline - the ECWT is launching these services in 2012!)