🇫🇮 The Future Women project: close the tech gender gap

Press release from ICT Oulu

November 2, 2023

Text by Arjane Kerkhoven

Future Women is a two-year, European-wide project that started at the beginning of this year and aims at increasing the number of women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Despite the many career options available, there is still a significant gender gap. In the current economy, more and more companies require strong digital skills, which is a trend that offers excellent career and study opportunities, and the opportunity to make that gap smaller.

Education is one of the ways through which Future Women wants to achieve its goal. Together with OAMK, they will develop an open online course (MOOC) that aims to increase women’s awareness of technology, necessary skills, and jobs that are available in STEM fields. Career counselors will receive extra training in guiding females in the digitalized job market.

Europe’s top STEM occupations

Future Women wrote a report on Europe’s top STEM occupations that require advanced digital skills (Pesonen & Spets, 2023). It offers a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of these jobs.

Here is a brief overview of the six top professions, click on each header to read more about them in the original report (Finnish only).

Business analyst

A business analyst analyzes key business data, which helps companies and organizations make business decisions. They also program tools and models, which help better visualize and track that data, help identify opportunities and risks, and find patterns in customer behavior. Business analysts are and will remain in high demand because many industries need them. The sector also has a high growth potential.

To become a business analyst, you need education in business administration, statistics, IT, or in a related field. Experienced analysts also have knowledge on for example databases, analytics-related computer programming, and expert problem-solving.

Digital marketing manager

Digital marketing managers maintain the online presence of an individual, a company, or an organization while taking into account online user’s behavior. Together with other professionals, they research and develop strategies to reach their target groups, create content, and measure and report on their performance. Online communication is ever-increasing, and through these online means, brands want to be able to reach their customers, find new customers and efficiently communicate with them.

As a digital marketing manager, you need a wide range of skills, from content creation and SEO to product marketing and digital strategy.

Information security specialist

It is the job of an information security specialist to look for vulnerabilities in security systems, prevent leaks, configure networks, and more. Data protection is crucial, and leaks are expensive, so the profession is in high demand. The required knowledge usually comes from experience in a similar position, or a degree in computer science, cybersecurity, or cryptography. English knowledge is usually required, and programming skills are an advantage. The demand for information security specialists increases all the time, and because security requirements, laws and technology develop fast you need to update your skills continuously.

Data analyst

As the name says, a data analyst collects, processes, and analyzes large datasets, for example from accounting, marketing research, and customer feedback. These analyses can help with business decision-making, and due to the continuously increasing technological advancements, data analysts are in ever higher demand.

A data analyst needs a degree in economics, mathematics or computer science, and knowledge of programming, statistics, and data visualization tools. You also need to be an effective communicator and be able to keep up with the newest analytics developments. There is a wide variety of careers available as a data analyst, with a good wage development.

AI engineer

An AI engineer can work in any company where they focus on machine learning models, algorithms, and cutting-edge AI research. They develop new AI solutions or improve existing ones, for example in risk assessment and customer support. In many fields, from e-commerce to the energy sector, AI is becoming more and more common, and many start-ups are involved in AI-based solutions as well. Currently, there’s a real shortage of AI talent, which makes for interesting salaries, and attractive benefits and growth opportunities.

As an AI engineer, you should preferably know Python, Java, C++ and R, and have good knowledge of mathematics, statistics, algorithms, software engineering, and more. Since AI raises ethical questions, related to for example privacy and bias, an AI engineer should be conscious of this and be able to develop fair, unbiased and accountable AI systems.

Software developer

One of the most demanded professions in the EU is the software developer. They research, build and test software with and for customers, and play a crucial role in the increasingly digital economy. Because of continuous development, there are now several subgroups in the field, which often include a high salary and remote work possibilities.

A software developer needs a degree in programming, computer science or a related field, and can work in many fields from the electronics industry to the gaming industry. Digital and multicultural communication skills and English skills are often necessary as well.

Challenge yourself, and reflect

Each one of those professions serves as a worthy goal for studies or a career, and anyone, independent of gender, is perfectly capable of working in tech.

I myself, as a female with a strong background in STEM fields, would want to say: don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, go and thrive in a field that has so much to offer. Yes, it’s often a men’s world, but they’re also just people who had to study for their jobs. Don’t be bothered by the ones that treat you like you can’t do it, even if it’s clearly not on purpose, and just show them. Go out there, explore, and find the career that suits you best!

Original report

Pesonen, M., & Spets, H. (2023, October 19). Benchmarking-raportti: Tulevaisuuden kärkiammatit digitaalitaloudessa ja STEM-aloilla – Oamk Journal. https://www.oamk.fi/. Retrieved October 26, 2023, from https://oamk.fi/oamkjournal/2023/benchmarking-raportti-tulevaisuuden-karkiammatit-digitaalitaloudessa-ja-stem-aloilla/

Originally published on 26 October by ICT Oulu.

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