Last week we had a guest post on this blog from the President of Inspiring Girls Spain, an international organization dedicated to connecting young girls to female role models. This topic is close to my heart and even more so this month as the world celebrates International Women’s Day causes. So when Malek Nejjai, Chief Diversity Officer contacted me asking if I was interested in representing Amadeus as a female engineer at an event called ‘Girls with no limits: science of the future’ in Madrid, I immediately agreed!
The event – organized by Inspiring Girls Spain –brought together a group of young school girls (aged 11-15 years old) with various female professionals from non-traditional sectors. In true ‘speed dating’ style, the girls had 10 minutes to talk to each table (8 in total) and ask us questions about jobs in science and technology.
Interestingly, the girls asked me specifically:
- How can you have a professional career and still have time for your family?
- Why did you decide to study Telecommunications and Computer Science?
To answer the second question, at school I was good at math and I thought STEM careers were full of opportunities. Despite the fact that nobody in my family studied sciences, they supported my choice and I think this support was key for me to go on and study Telecommunications in France and Computer Science in Spain. I worked at Ericsson before joining Amadeus 6 years ago (first in Nice and now in Madrid) and despite the great environment we have, there are still few women in R&D.
After the event, I wondered what we can do to inspire young girls to consider careers in STEM. Here are 3 ideas:
- Help build their confidence – there is nothing women can’t do, as long as they have the will
- Organize more of these kinds of events to illustrate that there are women working in STEM fields and that it’s possible to have a professional career and a personal life
- Educate children at an early age, both at school and at home (showing real-life examples is key)
I’m a proud aunt to two nephews aged 7 and 4 years old. I really enjoy reading to them and one of our favorite bedtime stories is ‘Goodnight stories for rebel girls’, a children’s book that looks at the lives of 100 extraordinary women (past and present). As a female engineer I find it very important to educate boys and challenge their views about games, girls and professions. Let’s also inspire boys!