The French Government announced a new initiative today in order to promote gender equality in the tech ecosystem in France with the help of 15 organizations. Like in many other countries, there are less women working in French startups than men. This is a key issue when it comes to recruiting the best talent and addressing the right market.
Other organizations like StartHer have done a lot to promote gender equality. Now, multiple organizations are coming together to coordinate their efforts.
When I talk with entrepreneurs in France, most of them (mostly white men) don’t necessarily see the point of paying attention to diversity. In broad terms, let’s say that you’re a team of 30 white dudes, chances are that you won’t be able to hire non-white men and you’re going to miss out on some great applicants — they’ll feel out of place in your company.
Studies also show that a more diverse team tends to be more productive. You get diverse points of view, you can make smarter decisions when it comes to addressing a market, especially if your market isn’t just tech-savvy white men — chances are your market is bigger than that.
Back in the early days of computer science, there were many women working in tech in France. Slowly but surely, the industry has become dominated by men. While women represent 45 percent of high school students who study science, only 20 percent of them become engineers. As for French startups, 28 percent of employees are women — that number drops to 16 percent when you’re just looking at engineers.
Fifteen organizations got together with the help of the French government to tackle all aspects of this issue. First, they’ll fight cyberbullying because it tends to target women, promote female role models and get more women on stage at Futur en Seine.
Second, there will be a few campaigns in high schools and universities to promote engineering schools and computer science studies for women.
Third, organizations will find ways to help companies so that they hire more women, help women if they want to start a company and help women find the perfect job in a tech company.
Overall, this is a detailed initiative and you’re going to see the first actions really soon.
Let’s also take a moment to remind everyone that diversity isn’t just a question of gender. Race, age, disability, sexual orientation and more matter as well. That’s why I’m glad that the French government is starting with gender equality — this is step zero. I also hope that future initiatives are going to talk about diversity at large. But starting with women in tech is a smart move because it’s going to educate tech companies about diversity.
Here’s the full list of organizations:
CINOV-IT, syndicat des PME TPE et indépendants du numérique
Quelques femmes du numérique
Syndicat des Editeurs de Logiciels de Loisirs
Syndicat National du Jeu Vidéo
TECH IN France (formerly AFDEL)
Union Nationale des Entreprises de Télécommunications, de Réseaux et de Services en Télécommunications