My name is Jessica Komulainen. I just turned 19 a few weeks ago. I grew up in a multicultural society with my Chinese grandparents in Malaysia and moved to Sotkamo at the age of five. Now I am studying to be a forestry engineer at the Karelia University of Applied Sciences. I love outdoor activities and sports and I also enjoy meeting people.
I was very shy as a young girl. My parents enrolled me in the scouts when I was nine. I was reluctant at first, but gradually fell in love with it! Through the scouts, I developed my confidence and learned that girls and boys are similar in many ways. This message of equality is also practiced in my home.
Growing up in Finland, I feel lucky to have the same opportunities as boys to pursue what I love, including a profession historically dominated by men. I joined the Girls Takeover Day (GTD) to show girls around the world that they can chase their dreams too, and should be given the same opportunities as boys. This year’s theme, ‘Girls and Technology’, affected me personally. When I was in high school, my girlfriends and I felt it was hard to choose IT as an optional study. The course was perceived as difficult and tiresome. We also thought it was game-related and for boys who like to play computer games. Later I realised these perceptions were inaccurate! So, I wanted to share my view on how technology can be brought closer to girls through my own experience.
Before my day as the CEO of Futurice, I was very nervous. I was afraid I was expected to know a lot about technology and Futurice’s business. I prepared by studying the company. I was impressed by the efforts Futurice puts into improving and managing diversity, including attracting women into the field. As part of the experience, I hoped to learn more about the challenges and opportunities girls face in the IT industry, and also get to know the diverse employees of Futurice - especially what roles female employees hold.
I am an inexperienced teenager with little knowledge of technology. So, I was pleasantly surprised that the employees of Futurice treated me with respect and were interested in my thoughts. They also very openly shared information about the company and their work. I could feel the values of equality and open-mindedness during the day.
I felt so lucky to be given this chance to be part of the GTD project. I experienced many things which I would not have thought possible at this age! It was an amazing journey for me. I learned about the IT industry, the challenges and opportunities for women in this field. I also got to practise my English and pushed myself out of my comfort zone speaking in front of a large group of experts from different backgrounds!
I think girls and technology should no longer be an exception. I hope Futurice will continue to support this initiative and help girls excel in this industry. Maybe Futurice can work with schools that focus on science studies to develop programmes that can change girls’ perceptions about IT and to encourage them to explore technology as an interest and profession. This might also include having successful female employees to share their success stories as role models to inspire exploration.
As for myself, after this experience with GTD, I hope in the future I can also be a role model in my chosen professional field. I want to show that girls can succeed in industries traditionally dominated by men. I also wish to develop deeper knowledge about technology that can help the forest industry make a positive impact on the climate and improve its competitiveness globally.