When I started my career more than 10 years ago, I have never thought I would have gained so many different experiences in diverse areas in such a short period of time. These experiences have given me the opportunity to share with the new generation of "IT girls" that they have today, even more than yesterday, and it’s theirs for the taking.
Personally, it was a professional meeting that changed my destiny and guided my way. I had the chance to meet a sales manager in the first company I worked for, who was able to separate the stereotype that women of today are not ‘made for computing science'.
I had not imagined at age 14, my choice of degree, would be in the field of computer science. As today's generation, I imagined that these jobs were reserved only for geeks and you needed to be some way scientific to touch this kind of business. My greatest strength is to be curious and to explore all the opportunities that I was given but it didn’t happen on its own, I had a helpful hand to show me the path and give me guidance.
What a surprise….this would be in computing science! There are occupations for geeks but especially there are other careers that are not for geeks! It can work in pretty much all areas of cosmetics to aeronautics. This is an area where everything evolves very quickly and where we must constantly learn to stay up to date. People who are allergic to the monotonous routine like I am will appreciate this rich and ever changing environment . Any woman can be the next ''IT girl'' and men will definitely support it! Because it can be their sister, their wife, their daughter and men should not put any girl or woman in a corner. We still have a long way to go for girl’s education in many parts of the world and we should never take education for granted.
Problem: Education is still not reaching every part of the world and in the “advanced” education zones, like France, engineering schools have low rates of females in their courses. This sector is still very much male dominated with ongoing development in encouraging females into the industry
Unfortunately, in France where I grew up, women are still a minority in engineering schools. In 30 years the curves have not really evolved, the proportion of women in engineering schools is stagnating at 30%. Learning how to encode, develop and program, women are able to do just as much as men if they had less apprehension in the choice of their orientation or less than prejudices to deconstruct for daring to begin. They fear being in the minority in the industry and that is why even today need to 'show the way' and should not take our course for granted for future generations.
Guide young girls from their earliest age: computer science is not yet automatic
In France, the path decided at college or in high school, for my part, I found it difficult to determine as a teenager my choice of professional career with so little information linked to the business world. It is one of the weaknesses of our education system that does not always make the link between studies and professional career. But we cannot stay passive and wait to see if this will be resolved by the new generation again away from technical trades or computer science on the pretext that the educational system is obsolete. Today's world is changing very quickly, and women should also have a part in shaping it.
It is critical to be able to educate and inform the younger generation of girls who enter the workforce in the next 10 years, along with those who unfortunately don’t have the access to education . A few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg responded to a grandmothers Facebook comment, which she wanted her granddaughter to date a nerd and he replied that it is her granddaughter who should be the Nerd!
The change of this mentality may take time but it is on the way: sometimes the awareness actions appear to be a drop of water in the ocean, but for each sensitized daughter from his early age, there is a hope of even feminize the field and increasing diversity. Every action counts, and it is the sum of all our actions that will make the great successes of tomorrow, for example:
- get in connection with schoolgirls to answer their questions and rising doubts
- sponsor a girl
- assist her in the development of its future project
If not now, when?
In higher education, it is probably already too late to influence young women in their choice of curriculum that is why it is important to do so from the earliest age in order to show them the possible fields and to restore a balance and a still fragile social mix.
In the first part of my career, I wanted to stretch and enable the new generation of “IT girls" to be assertive, thrive and diversify still more our field of activity.
Women who are curious and willing to take risks will be the leaders of tomorrow. They will be equally competent and sought to help companies in their quests of talents, of fairness and diversity, where it is shown that women bring excellent businesses acumen, strong performance, innovation and flexibility.
Today, I have the chance to give my time to causes that are close to my heart because my company encourages initiatives that favor the Community and reconnect to civil society. I support the FACE Foundation for action against exclusion, with middle school students in sensitive areas. I am active in initiatives like the Wi-filles program, which allows initiation to the technical business of IT for girls only, keeping them out of prejudice. The goal is to make a group of schoolgirls, our ambassadors of the computer science sector as they are the lifeblood of our future in the industry. I am always happy to participate and encourage initiatives like #womeninsteam or celebrate the@womeninscienceday led by Unesco that took place 11th February to be the mentor I wish I had when I was younger.
In my next blog, I will take you through my last experience volunteering for a TEDx conference in Paris to promote … MiXity, it was a great moment to share ideas and be part of the changes to build a better society for tomorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen, bring your stone to the building, where some think to build walls, others build pyramids! The road is long, but it is part of the journey and it will make an even more beautiful destination... And you, what do you do for the next generation coming?
Don’t miss my next blog on my experience as a volunteers at TEDx conference in Paris.
Love this blog Fatiha, very inspirational. I agree, we should all be doing our part! Programs like 'IT is not just for geeks' that we run in the Cork office is a prime example of how we can educate the younger generation around careers in IT that are not necessarily technical ;)
Great post and very timely.