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Less than two months from starting the third decade of the third millennium, part of the world population is still discussing topics supposed to be settled a century ago. Gender matters seem to be, or potentially become, hot topics not only in private life but especially in work and business. Although a disappointing and painful exercise, talking about these topics has decreased the worst kinds of aggression towards women in the workplace. According to a study published by HBR in the summer of 2019, the number of women reported being sexually coerced went from 25 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2018.
However, not all gender injustice is of a sexual nature. There are matters that might just be unseen, considered normal, or conveniently ignored. Furthermore, these matters do not have concerns for social class, income nor the level of education. For instance, pay inequality which is pervasive worldwide. In Finland, considered a beacon of gender equality, the “women euro” is 83 cents according to statistics (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health). Many of these differences emerge under the bright lights and lasers of events like Slush.
Although women are still underrepresented in business and technology and in leadership and top management positions, the situation seems to be changing slowly.
This year, more so than previously, the environment and program of Slush included topics that empower women. Before the massive event started, Andreas Saari, the CEO of Slush, mentioned that he wouldn’t participate in a panel with men only. The gesture was openly appreciated by women, especially through social media. But this position is not a breakthrough in the business world. The first male to boycott “men meetings” was Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, who refused to participate in meetings where women were less than 30 percent of the participants.
Although women are still underrepresented in business and technology and in leadership and top management positions, the situation seems to be changing slowly. For instance, the percentage of women speakers at Slush increased from 38 percent to 39 this year.
In its latest edition, the event also included many topics related to women; there was even an open talk about tampons and sexual pleasure. One of the speakers mentioned that she is already familiar with not being taken seriously by investors and how you need to get them to understand basic matters related to women’s health. Like the fact that a tampon does not dissolve inside the body, and that’s why there is a string attached to it.
Happily, there are success stories to be mentioned: last week it was announced that three out of seven board members for 2020 in the Finnish Business Angel Network FiBAN are women.
Amel Gaily, the managing director of FiBAN, said that she’s usually asked how she came to occupy a leading position within a traditional business environment like finances.
She has an international background. (She was raised abroad in different countries.)
She has a hard-working nature.
Her family stressed the importance of education. (Her sister is a PhD.)
Practicing competitive sports.
She received support and trust from the supervisors at the beginning of her career in Nordea.
Without pretending to sound modest, Gaily also pointed out the fortune of being in the right place at the right time. She referred to a common and fair story in the life of women in top management and leadership positions: opportunity meets those best prepared for it.