INTERVIEW
Dorothée ROCH · Co-founder & Director BECOMTECH

Where do things stand with gender equality in France?

There is still a long way to go towards equality, and we need to move up a gear!… In France, since the 1980s, the proportion of women in the digital sector has been decreasing. Today, women represent only 27% of employees in digital companies. If we take a closer look, only 16% of them work in technical digital jobs, 84% in so-called support functions.

At school level, in 2019, 2.6% of girls and 15.2% of boys in the first year of general education chose the Digital and Computer Sciences (NSI) speciality, i.e. 6 times more boys than girls! To give a concrete idea of the extent of this under-representation, imagine that you enter a class in this speciality and you will see only 3 girls among the 30 students!

Why does tech need women? Why do we need women in tech?

Because you simply can’t do without 50% of the population!

Firstly, digital is a fast-growing sector and IT and digital jobs are undergoing a great deal of diversification. By not investing in these sectors, women risk being left out of many promising jobs.

Secondly, digital uses are multiplying and gradually integrating all aspects of civic and daily life and access to education. Girls have developed a growing familiarity with digital tools, but these uses are not accompanied by their inclusion as actors in the digital transformations underway. The challenge is therefore to move from use to responsibility and to the places where our world is shaped.

How can we really act, all of us, for more gender diversity?

To change this situation, action is needed at all levels.  I have mentioned the commitment of companies, but we must also fight against gender stereotypes from childhood, by raising awareness in families, training teachers, and creating an egalitarian imagination through stories in class and in school textbooks, for example.

Girls must be given the opportunity to discover in concrete terms that they can enjoy computing and develop their skills: this can be done through training, by meeting employees in companies, by being in contact with female role models, etc. This is what we do at BECOMTECH with our digital initiation programme for teenage girls: JUMP IN TECH. After 4 weeks of immersion: 75% of the participants plan to move into a digital or digital-related sector, which proves that it works!

Are you optimistic about equal representation of women and men in tech?

I’m optimistic when I see the tremendous momentum of the teenage girls and young women with whom BECOMTECH, the association I co-founded five years ago, works. They are passionate about digital and computer science, they are acutely aware of the inequalities in this field and want to change the lines.

On the other hand, the statistics make me pessimistic, the situation is not moving, and is even getting worse!

It is becoming urgent for companies to make a massive commitment. Companies must take concrete and collective action, in collaboration with associations and institutions, to improve the overall inclusion of women.

It is also essential to act in companies so that women no longer face ordinary sexism or discrimination. It is not acceptable that they still have to fight daily to defend their legitimacy…

What is also essential is to give women the means to achieve their ambitions in Tech. Provide financial support for entrepreneurial initiatives led by women. Giving visibility to the projects of girls who launch themselves into the digital world. This is what BECOMTECH is doing with BECOMLEADER, a programme that develops their leadership through the creation of projects that contribute to the development of digital diversity.

It is also important to bear witness to and highlight inspiring stories: this is done through the media. The Ambassadors of the BECOMTECH association have launched SUIS TA VOIX! It is the first collaborative podcast of women aged 16 to 24 highlighting their views on society in order to move the lines. Each episode questions a new theme through the sharing of experiences of the Ambassadors and proposes avenues for reflection and action. We invite you to listen to it, it is available on all listening platforms!

At the level of higher education, we must act against the dropout of female students in computer science and digital technology so that these future professionals become the bearers of initiatives that have an impact on the digital gender mix.

Higher education institutions are still struggling to make progress on gender issues in their tech and digital streams. For example, according to the Sexism in digital training survey published by Social Builder, 7 out of 10 women feel that they have been the object of sexism or violence, i.e. that they have been subjected to behaviour ranging from sexist “jokes” to sexual blackmail. This is a significant disincentive for women to get involved and it is easy to see why…

An inspirational quote that you like to repeat?

Because Girls Can is the slogan of the association. It needs to be repeated so that girls and women take it on board and realise that yes, they have a place everywhere, especially in the digital world.

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