Digital companies are still struggling with gender equality

One hundred and eighteen million dollars (about 113 million euros). This is the amount Google wanted to pay on Monday, June 13 to a collective of 15,000 former employees who accused it of having discriminated against women in terms of wages and development, rather than undergoing a trial.

Also in France, many associations-present at the VivaTech show, which starts on Wednesday June 15-are warning about the inequality in tech and the sexist stereotypes that persist in this overwhelming environment. Women represent only 23% of employees in digital professions, according to a report published in 2020 by the association Femmes@Numérique. And according to a study conducted by the training organization Ironhack, 41% of French people who asked think that women are not as good at working there compared to men.

Solenne Bocquillon-Le Goaziou, CEO and founder of Soft skills, sees this every day as a start-up in technology education: “ Even if we have dug well into a subject, the men will come and explain to us again. By definition, because of unconscious biases, we are a woman so we are less capable than a man. “.

Deconstruct clichés

When I was teaching computer science, I felt like I wasn’t serious “, confirms Sophie Viger, now general manager of 42, the code school founded by Xavier Niel.” So I developed strategies. Because I have a very good memory, I remember the list of all the students, and I recite it back, calling them each. Then I can start my lesson! “, he describes.

The director, who was hired in 2018 to restore the image of school 42, accused of sexism, wants to deconstruct clichés about IT. “DIn the 1980s, when personal computers appeared, men took them and came together as a community. They are men who are a bit awkward to women. So after a while, it created a kind of hypersexualization of women and violence against them in the IT world. “. We see this for example with Lara Croft, the heroine of video games, says Sophie Viger.” Inevitably, it’s a bit disgusting and women don’t want to enter that world. “, continued the director of 42.

Zero tolerance for sexist jokes

In 2018, the school had 14% enrollment, compared to 32% in 2021. A small achievement, for Sophie Viger: “To achieve this, I implemented zero tolerance: online messaging, the smallest sex joke and banned students from messaging for two weeks. “said the director. It also changed the recruitment process by reserving 50% of the places in the” pool “(the choice to include 42) for women.” If we realized there were still places left, we re -opened the registrations to the boys. But we want to maximize the number of women in the selection process. explanation by Sophie Viger.

In the world of start-ups, stereotypes are dying hard. Businesses founded by women have a harder time attracting investment. In 2020, only 9% of the funds were raised by mixed or female teams, while they represent 21% of start-ups, according to the latest barometer conducted by Sista collective and BCG.

The gap is also explained by the areas of activity of these start-ups. “Topics brought up by women often have an impact on society or the environment, or are related to care … Not topics as beneficial as a fintech (a start-up that offers financial services) »confession of Solenne Bocquillon-Le Goaziou.

A tense sector

The wage gap between men and women in French tech remains at 23%, according to a Figures platform study, cited by Les Échos. “In tech companies, there are more women in communications or marketing, lower-paying jobs. Conversely, with the development of IT, which is better paid, there are more men.”decrypting Sophie Viger, from school 42.

However, the space tends to be narrow. Today, companies offer the same salary to men and women, with equal skills and experience, ensuring sector professionals. “There is a tension in these professions that companies are heavily looking for female profiles”, assured Emmanuelle Laroque, of the Social Builder association, which trains women in digital professions.

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