Interview with Emmanuelle BORRELLY, Head of Digital Inclusion and Public Services – Investment Department – Caisse des Dépôts Group and Rose LEMARDELEY, Head of Education – Caisse des Dépôts Group.
The Banque des Territoires has committed itself this year to JFD. What does this commitment mean to you?
Emmanuelle Borrelly – The aim was to highlight the female agents of the France Services programme, a public policy aimed at helping the French with their administrative procedures. These women work for digital inclusion and enable the entire population (men and women) to take advantage of digital opportunities. They facilitate procedures, facilitate access to rights and work on equality between citizens. Of course, highlighting female agents, rather than the entire France Services network, also represents a strong conviction held by the Banque des Territoires: that of the equality of all, regardless of gender or social-economic background, in the face of digital technology. The highlighting of female agents is therefore all the more important because it demonstrates that even if women in the digital world have been sidelined in the past, we are now witnessing a paradigm shift in which the Banque des Territoires is proud to participate. We cannot consider carrying out actions that make digital an opportunity for all citizens by excluding 50% of the population!
Rose Lemardeley – Although education is a “feminised” public policy, in the same way as other “care” professions such as health or justice, France is still lagging far behind in terms of girls’ access to scientific and computer science courses, ultimately causing an under-representation of women in the digital professions. This is why the Banque des Territoires is proud to have supported in 2021 the 1st junior edition of les Margaret Awards which is aimed at girls aged 7 to 18 who have an innovative idea in tech in Europe and Africa. The emergence of role models is also key to encouraging young girls to embark on a scientific education or to help them project themselves into a digital profession. We also wanted to promote women role models in Edtech by giving a voice to women who are building the school of tomorrow through a series of videos. The commitment of the Banque des territoires to the service of more attractive and more inclusive territories involves investment in the school of tomorrow, which cannot do without digital technology or girls.
How do you act on a daily basis to reduce territorial inequalities in access and understanding of digital tools?
Emmanuelle Borrelly – To facilitate the work of these agents, the Banque des territoires, in strategic partnership with the Agence Nationale de la Cohésion des Territoires, leads the network of France Services agents, provides them with a platform to render services and finances their training. Every day, my team and I think about how to accompany this public policy to have the greatest impact on the territory and on citizens. Beyond the France Services programme, which is emblematic of the actions we are carrying out in the field of digital inclusion, we are carrying out several actions that aim to reduce territorial inequalities in access to digital technology:
- Within the framework of the France Services programme and the France Services Digital Advisor mandate, we are conducting experiments on digital health in partnership with the Agence Nationale de la Cohésion des Territoires. These experiments are based on the deployment of telemedicine terminals. In terms of health, we are convinced that digital technology can provide solutions, particularly for areas where there is a lack of medical care, and therefore primarily for rural areas;
- Since 2018 we have been deploying and financing the “Hubs for an Inclusive Digital”. Today, the hubs cover the entire French territory and accompany the actors of digital inclusion in the territories every day. Indeed, they participate in the animation and coordination of the networks of digital inclusion actors in their territories, and support them by accompanying the development of their projects.
- We have launched a call for expressions of interest to support VSEs and SMEs and we are proud to have 23 winning projects. Here again, small and medium-sized enterprises are key players in the economic vitality of the territories. We believe it is essential to support them, especially during this period of health and economic crisis:
- Finally, we are supporting the call for projects “Inclusive Digital Education” within the framework of the recovery plan, which aims to act so that the 13 million pupils of today will not be the 13 million citizens excluded from digital education tomorrow. The health crisis has demonstrated the extent to which digital inclusion is a key issue in access to education. For the first wave of this call for projects, we have 40 winners, including 34 projects that act directly at the territorial level to support and develop digital education and inclusion.
You are co-producing a catalogue and a map of French EdTech with EdTech France. How is this ecosystem doing in terms of gender?
Rose Lemardeley – In 2018, the Banque des territoires produced the first study on the edtech sector, from which we retained two images: that of a “bonsai forest”, to reflect the growth of a digital education sector in full structuring, and that of the typical profile of the edtech entrepreneur in the guise of a male, Parisian and business school graduate. Today, together with Edtech France and EY, we are publishing a study on the Edtech market in 2020, which reveals that 33% of EdTech management teams operating in France are women, which may not seem like much and confirms the lack of women in the world of startups, but this should be compared to the 15% overall in the French Tech sector.
But we are also actors within this ecosystem, and we seek to promote parity on a daily basis through our activities. As a public interest investor, we systematically target extra-financial impacts in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through our edtech accelerator “passerelles”, through our investments in impact companies, through the “edtech for good” approach we have launched with co-investors… we are committed to advancing the inclusion of women and the promotion of equality in education.
Education, Funding and Role Models are the three pillars of JFD’s actions to increase the presence of women in the tech industry.
What do these pillars inspire you?
Emmanuelle Borrelly – These are indeed essential pillars for supporting the place of women in digital: First of all, we need to support, particularly through education, a change in the way women are viewed in society. This starts at a very young age, by teaching little girls to gain confidence in themselves and by showing them that they have a place in the scientific and technical spheres. I am all the more convinced of this as I followed an engineering course. It also involves funding projects led by women, who need support to find the right position beyond the solid skills they already have. And finally, as you mentioned, it involves the deployment of role models, to develop exchange and support between peers.
Rose Lemardeley – These three pillars echo the objectives of a call for projects entitled “Inclusive digital education” that we launched as part of Caisse des Dépôts’ contribution to the Recovery Plan. We are pleased to have selected the first 40 winning projects, out of more than a hundred applications, which will help to overcome educational inequalities and spread inclusive and innovative projects, particularly in the area of digital education for women and young girls. A second round of selection is underway, and applications are invited!