Saturday, 1 March 2014

#GIRLS : the digital economy belongs to you !

"We want that our communication tools become digital"
I heard this during a client brief in a big French industrial group, and it wasn’t a surprise: former consultant in a communication agency, I am one of those people who know the importance that took the digital economy in our society. However, I think that this sector supposed to be representative of our future does not offer the best reflection of the parity in the work’s world. Even if gender equality is part of development indicators (HDI) promoted by the UN, and even if the french Minister of Digital Economy is a woman (a young one as well), in reality the way which leads us to break the glass ceiling is still long.
I am part of the generation in France that discovered Internet with MSN, with the very first version of Internet Explorer, and with old modem connections doing weird noises. Our children, however, who will be born already identified on Facebook with pictures of their first bath, will be entitled to ask: why did we let the digital economy in the hands of so many men (or so few women)?
The European Union has sounded the alarm in fall 2013, with disturbing figures: of a selection of 1,000 European student girls, there are only 29 who choose a digital section. And over these 29, there are only 4 who eventually find a career in this economy.
However , digital is a growing industry , with a lot of job creations : executives, engineers , entrepreneurs, start -ups ... The companies themselves are struggling to recruit the necessary profiles to develop their digital offer : when I was looking for a job online in France, I was seeing every day more and more positions searched of " Community management " .
So where is the gap? Like many inequalities, I think it comes from education. Too many girls are leaving technical or scientific areas at school, it is a fact. I remember we were 90% of girls in the Arts division back in high school. On the other side, scientific classes had a more even spread of boys and girls. In engineering school, only a few women choose industrial engineering or computer option. Being a “geek” or “neird” is a male’s passion.
Look at Twitter, summoned to feminize its board of directors (7 guys) : very quickly we saw the appointment of Marjorie Scardino , a famous boss from the media's world. Or Facebook, with its director Sheryl Sandberg. But apart from Marissa Mayer (boss of Yahoo), these iconic women do not come from the world of computing.
Finally, I note this: the digital economy sector has become a success in developed countries, so it attracts a predominantly male audience. Of course there are women bloggers (mommy blogs, fashionistas bloggers), women from the media’s world, but they are mostly women involved in the digital economy in its social and conversational side. Which is also known as the traditional women’s side. However, on the technical side, such as developers, engineers, we are still left behind.
So for those who are interested, let’s follow on March 7 the Day of the Digital Woman which will take place in Paris, or at a more international level, the TedX Women which just started.
#Girls, there are places to be taken!
Agathe Ramsamy
Editor in chief at The StandArt, a digital media about art and innovation

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