Getting more women to understand software is the core mission of the Finnish Software and eBusiness Association (Ohjelmisto- ja e-business ry), winner of the fourth prize. They offer hands-on, free of charge workshops to women with no previous coding experience to help them flourish in the IT industry. Rasmus Roiha and Milja Köpsi spoke to us about #mimmitkoodaa's philosophy and how the organisation is planning to use the prize money.

EESC info: What does this prize mean for you and your organisation?

Rasmus Roiha & Milja Köpsi: We feel extremely grateful and privileged and even more driven to continue our work with #mimmitkoodaa. Our programme will have an even deeper impact as it grows in numbers and broadens in scope. We now have 5000+ women and dozens of companies in the programme. Our target is to have ten thousand women and a hundred companies involved in the next two years. Winning the EESC prize gave the programme positive media exposure and helped bring in more committed partners.

What advice would you give to other organisations in terms of achieving results with such activities and programmes?

Be specific. Offer something tangible, not just a seminar or increased information flow. In most cases it is easy to get participants for different programmes, especially if you are offering something for free. In our case, the success factor was to get the first companies involved as they are doing the heavy lifting: paying a fee for the launch events (community building) AND committing themselves to organise beginner-level workshops (practical, hands-on work). The first eight companies we handpicked and invited, and so we got top companies committing to the programme. From there on, it was easier to scale up. So starting with something practical is a great way to validate the idea of the programme, or any startup idea :) 

How will you use this specific funding to provide further help in the community?

In 2020 we'll be expanding the #mimmitkoodaa programme across Finland. We will be launching inspiring events where we share career stories and tips for learning, show what positions and business/work opportunities the software industry has and how women can use their individual life and work experience in the field of technology.

Also coming up are more of the highly popular hands-on workshops, where women can try different kinds of content management systems, programming languages, AI testing, white hat hacking, etc.

The Finnish Software and eBusiness Association publishes encouraging women's career stories so that women can inspire and support each other and begin to see ICT as a career choice. To what extent do you think this helps women to find their place in the software industry? 

The power of examples and role models is an incredibly valuable asset in our network. When you present different kinds of people with different kinds of career stories, everyone can find examples and encouragement for their own journey. This way we can lower and bring down biases (conscious or unconscious) that people in the software industry still have today.

On top of this, we are building a network for the women who are either already in the software industry, or interested in a career in it. We have already seen more than satisfactory participation in the live Q&A session on Instragram. This is something that has never been tried before in our industry.

Is your network also planning to help young female students to choose STEM subjects at school or have you already managed to reach out to them with the current project?

#mimmitkoodaa's target group is adult women, but we can already see how these women are an active example for younger women and girls. Adult women with even a basic understanding of software development and the possibilities software can provide via digitalisation, among other things, have better career opportunities and this will also have an impact on their network, family and friends.