opinion | The digital transition will happen with women or it won’t!

By Stephane Pallez (President and CEO of the FDJ group)Nathalie Collin (General Manager of the Consumer and Digital Division of the La Poste Group)Christel Heydemann (CEO of Orange)Caterina Guillouard (President and CEO of RATP)

The digital world is a club of geeks, disconnected from reality, who practice trades of a technicality inaccessible to mere mortals – and above all to mortals.

A sum of absurd clichés? Absolutely. Here, summarized in one sentence, are the stereotypes anchored in the collective imagination and which generate apprehension and self-censorship among women attracted to digital professions. Only 7% of them plan to move to this sector and less than 20% of the employees in these professions are women.

Pioneers, from Ada Lovelace to Mary Keller

Yet … Many women have made an important contribution to the history of computing. Pioneers Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, Margaret Hamilton, Hedy Lamarr, Mary Keller, are just starting to emerge from oblivion. Until the 1970s they inspired thousands of women, who were very present or even mostly in the IT professions before being progressively excluded.

A cancellation highly damaging to gender equality, as it deprived girls of powerful role models to integrate an industry that promises 1.75 million new jobs by 2030. But the digital transition is also a victim collateral to these clichés when women absolutely need them! Due to the lack of trained profiles, 80,000 jobs were not filled in the digital sector in 2019 in France. Digital equality is a strategic investment to bridge this skills gap: it is estimated that it would produce 10% more GDP by 2025. Last but not least, it would help ensure that the world of tomorrow is designed with 100%. talents, be they female or male.

Tomorrow, most of the jobs will integrate digital

Tomorrow, the vast majority of jobs will integrate digital and its technologies. Encouraging girls to pursue science and technology careers is therefore imperative, starting with primary school. It is also necessary to make these professions known in all their diversity: from the digital marketing expert to the machine learning expert, from the DSI to the developer … Orange has created a CFA for training in digital professions that targets 30% of girls per year promotion.

It is up to us, business leaders, to extend this effort throughout your career, through recruiting, training and skills development. The proactive policy of the RATP group has made it possible to reach 40% of women in the technology professions. At La Française des Jeux, it is the digitization of human resources, marketing, legal professions, etc. which has allowed women already very present in these activities to acquire digital skills.

Knowing how to adapt and welcome them

We can also act through the technology ecosystem, which meets this week at VivaTech. Because if French Tech hit a record in terms of fundraising, 88% were captured by male-led start-ups! For example, France’s IoT Impact x Technologie, La Poste’s start-up accelerator, has achieved parity in the management teams of supported start-ups from 2020. RATP Capital Innovation, the investment subsidiary of RATP, has made gender equality one of the selection criteria for funding or collaboration with start-ups, and signed the Sista Charter. FDJ is at the origin of this collective, of which it sponsors the class of 2022 with the aim of creating a pool of start-ups created by women. Orange’s #FemmesEntrepreneuses program also supports 100 female founders of start-ups when La Poste supports women engaged in responsible digital innovation.

If digital transformation can become a career accelerator for women, women can be a huge digital transformation accelerator. It is up to us leaders, managers, recruiters, to take this opportunity and know how to adapt and welcome them!

Caterina Guillouard, CEO of RATP

Christel Heydemann, CEO of Arancio

Nathalie Collins, General Public and General Manager Digital La Poste Group

Stephan Pallez, CEO of La Française des Jeux.

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