The future is for everyone. It should be made by everyone.

The future is for everyone. It should be made by everyone.

The future is for everyone. It should be made by everyone.

6 / 11 - 2019

As a 16 year old, Ebtisam Mohammedsalih came to Sweden. In this new country she found her true passion; diversity and inclusion. 5 years later she was awarded Microsoft's IT Girl of the Year. She was also one of the acclaimed speakers at TechDays 2019, held by Microsoft. Hear her story about the sweetness of diversity, and why it's important to have diverse teams. 

Soon after my arrival I started attending a Swedish school for new-comers. I was amazed to see the diversity of my classmates. 5 years ago, I moved to Sweden and was reunited with my mother, who had had to leave Ethiopia because of the war. I was 16 and it was my first time travelling abroad. My first impression of this new country, already on the plane, was the green landscape.

Approximately speaking, there were 20 students in total and there were at least 7 nationalities. Some of my classmates couldn’t speak English and certainly none of us spoke Swedish. However, with the help of technology, we found a way to communicate. That’s when I first tasted the sweetness of a diverse community. Ever since then, wherever I go, I try to make my environment more diverse.

A little more than two years ago, I started studying Computer Science at Linnaeus University in Växjö. Again, there were people from all over the world in my program. But I didn’t get that sweet taste of diversity. That's because the number of women in my class was very insignificant compared to men. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just the case in my class. There seems to be a unanimous agreement in the society that IT is just for men. “Boys play games on the computers. Therefore, they are the ones who study IT and develop those games. 

This is a clear misunderstanding. First of all; IT is not all about game programming. Secondly; because you didn’t have technology exposure in that way at an earlier age, it doesn’t mean it’s not for you. We have to abolish the misunderstanding regarding girls' lack of interest for IT.  We must make sure that everyone is encouraged to choose the IT business, as well as other branches where lack of diversity can be a problem. All branches benefit from diverse teams, no matter what business sector or area you are in. 

A couple of months ago, I joined the HR team at IST. I will continue to work with diversity and inclusion, topics that are always relevant and so inspiring to me. I will coach and continue to raise awareness about the importance of diversity and of having diverse working teams. Diversity is already an important aspect in the recruiting process, but there is always room for improvement.  

The future is for everyone and therefore, we have a responsibility to include multiple perspectives. This is especially important when it comes to the product development process. Achieving that, we maximize the chance to develop products adapted for everyone. Customers will get a higher value when feeling a sense of belonging, and businesses can gain so much when allowing everyone to have a voice in the development process. It's a win-win for everyone to have diverse teams. To work proactively with inclusion and to develop a future made for everyone.  

In September, Ebtisam Mohammedsalih started to work at IST as HR Project Assistant within tech - diversity and inclusion. With her passion for diversity and her engagement in ways of learning, she is determined to get more girls into the tech business. In spring 2019 Ebtisam won the Microsoft IT Girl of the Year 2019.