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Technology & business need more motherly touch

We are celebrating Mother’s Day this year with intelligent, business-driven mothers who want to share their thoughts about combining motherhood with business and about how technology, AI and SHIFT could benefit them.

 

The mothers interviewed here are all members of Mothers in Business Network. Meet Päivi Soinio, Laura Hiippavuori, Linda Mannila, Ksenia Virtanen and Maaret Vuorio

 

MiB is a peer network where everyone shares the same life situation: combining motherhood with business. MiB offers support in professional self-development, getting back to business after family leave and in connecting with the right people.

 

MAARET: “I have liked to invest my time in baby-phase to networks where you get to discuss professional matters. You get to share your thoughts with congenial people and you get many tips for your own professional career.”

 

PÄIVI: “You won’t be alone during the parental leave thinking only about the diapers.

 

LAURA: “I’m not a “vauva.fi” kind of mother if you know what I mean. I’m interested in smart viewpoints of motherhood and parenting. I’m not part of many mother-child groups, but MiB works for me.”

 

KSENIA: “I am proud of all the mothers who want to try their business ideas, going forward and chasing the dream. Mothers are very brave and very strong people, I believe they can be successful entrepreneurs and change the world for the better.”

 

SHIFT too is proud of mothers (and all people) who take part in the discussion about technology and the future. Diversity is an important factor when considering the effect new technologies can have on our lives. Apart from the fact that technology developers are often men, mothers also often feel like they are sidelined by the soft front. However soft they may seem, mothers know that technology is the key to changing things. They don’t want to concentrate on only the small things, but to see real changes in the world:

 

PÄIVI: “Not small things like a better video to the baby monitors, rather big and real things like climate change, clean food, and safe society.”

 

Mothers’ wishlisted features for future technology

 

To keep society safe like Päivi wishes, we need more diversity and focus on how equality shows in the fields of application development, AI and information technology. Laura and Linda both highlighted that the end users are not a homogenous group, and diverse solutions need more diverse perspectives. People, regardless of gender, are often biased, and that bias often shows in our work. But  what’s the outcome when entire fields are dominated by similar people, with similar biases?

 

LAURA: “I think the diversity is very important issue and it needs more attention. We have lived in a world designed by men for men.  For example are men capable or even interested in designing and creating applications that concern women’s health?”

 

All the mothers pointed out the importance of working remotely and that work is no longer dependent on place or time. Ksenia’s business is strongly related to mothers, and she highlighted how innovations in household appliances can help mothers outsource some of their tasks to machines and AI, leaving the human to focus on more important tasks. Environmental aspects of innovations are very important to mothers – we care what kind of world our children will grow up in.

 

LINDA: “I can also be present at home even though I am physically somewhere else. I travel quite a lot, and sometimes children tag along when I search for hotel rooms, help with homework, read them bedtime stories and go to walks. All this through Facetime.”

 

MAARET: “I can’t really say anything about AI and how it helps mothers precisely, but there’s a lot of technology nowadays, which mothers can benefit from. I’m a mother of 3 small children, entrepreneur and employee. I work as an entrepreneur in the wellness industry and I want to invest in well-being and exercise. I use a lot of different technologies that help me do yoga and mindfulness exercises at home.”

 

Equality from accessibility

 

One strong point these moms made was that technology should be more accessible regardless of the background of a person. To make this happen, we need more public discussion about the future of technology, more networking between the people who use technologies and those who made decisions about them. However, even business events can be seen as if they were only targeter for men. Equality is a priority – it needs to be clear that women are every bit as much  a part of the target group as men. The world was in many ways created by men, and with the over-representation of men in historical data, AI will easily be biased in favor of men. AI is only as good as our ability to use it, and equality in the data is a tremendously important factor.

 

LAURA: “Also, crash test dummies are designed based on the average male. It would be important to include all users in designing and in testing of different products and services.”

 

LAURA: “I think that there’s a lot of possibilities for mothers to educate and improve their careers as well, but if you don’t have the knowledge it’s difficult. Parents’ interest about technology eases the discussion with their children, whose lives are going to be affected by it more than ours.”

 

When mothers think about the future where their kids will live, robotics will be their everyday life. Technology has changed fast and a lot has happened already in 10 years. In the future there won’t be a work like this as we know it. Mothers need to be able to coach their children for the future, to give them the tools to access that future world to its full extent.

 

PÄIVI: “10 years from now, every kid knows how to code, it will be a part of the basic civics. They won’t be able to work without some knowledge and a language to communicate with robots or utilize AI algorithms. How are we able to prepare our children for that? Is the education system ready?”

 

“I believe the SHIFT’s strengths are that it’s fresh, timely, and exploits the latest technologies. Being agile and scalable enables the Shift easily to change the focus if needed and make fast decisions!”