The beginning of the 2000s marked the bursting of the Internet bubble, but also the entry of IT professions into the heart of “bankable” industries. Alongside the hordes of suits and ties – or the coolest jeans and hoodies – the industry employs a handful of women, who are struggling to find their place.
“Men positioned themselves very competitively in positions of responsibility, and women found themselves isolated”, Explain Samia Ghozlane, co-president of Cyberelles. The association, created as a “business club” in 2001, aims to be a place of free speech, but also of mutual aid. “The members of the network could ask for advice, the more experienced ones trained their sisters. “
Almost twenty years after the creation of the association, the stakes remain colossal: women still represent less than 25% of the tech workforce, and this figure continues to decrease. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of women in tech companies fell by 11% in France and the number of women graduates in tech sectors fell by 6%, according to Gender Scan.
“Today, women are held back by a lack of knowledge of digital professions and by stubborn clichés”, underlines Samia Ghozlane, for whom the image of the geek who codes in his garage harms the ambitions of young women. “This is why role models play a crucial role”, she continues, recalling that women were initially present in the sector, with figures that have gone down in history such as Ada lovelace, at the origin of the first computer program in history, or Grace Hopper, creator of the Cobol language. To help highlight modern role models, Samia Ghozlane believes in the importance of events such as Digital Women’s Day, created by the JFD Connect club, and in which Cyberelles participates.
The association is also committed to digital entrepreneurs, who represent 40% of its 120 members. To help them meet the challenge, Cyberelles offers them professional workshops (one is devoted to fundraising) and personal development seminars, with a view to promoting the empowerment of women in the sector.
Collective member Women @ digital, the Cyberelles network is linked to other organizations, such as the Grande Ecole du numérique, whose director is none other than Samia Ghozlane. A training network focused on digital professions, GEN has trained 28,000 people since 2015. It particularly targets women, low-skilled people, as well as residents of priority neighborhoods.
Cyberelles also supports initiatives such as French Tech Tremplin, a program aimed at encouraging diversity in tech start-ups – an objective which is above all a matter of common sense, for the president of the association: “Without women, we deprive ourselves of talent, of a vision of the world, but also of profits. “ This is confirmed by a recent McKinsey study, which estimates the performance differential between the most mixed companies and the poorest students at 48%.