Dear Women: tech needs you!

International women’s day is another occasion to remind ourselves that women remain dramatically under-represented in tech. In Silicon Valley, around 70% of tech sector employees are male and the imbalance is even stronger in executive functions and tech jobs.

At BlaBlaCar 44% of the team is made of women, yet the number falls to a unimpressive 5% in our tech team. We are conscious of the margin of progress that lies ahead.

This gender imbalance raises the question of representativeness since our carpooling community is gender balanced. In addition, teams that lack diversity, whatever the type, run the risk of thinking in a homogeneous way whereas innovation typically stems from different perspectives nourished by a mix of genders, cultures and educations.
- Olivier Bonnet, VP Engineering, BlaBlaCar -

Here is the experience of female team members with different responsibilities in the tech team. We hope that sharing their journey might inspire other women to join the sector!

Gaëlle Durivault Guillot

I’m Engineering Manager, in charge of iOS, Android and Quality Assurance teams. I studied at Mines de Saint Etienne, a generalist engineering school. Early on, I had a strong taste for maths. Irrespective of this preference, I continued to favour a generalist education to widen my horizons, but in second year I specialised in computer science. 
I started as Software Engineer and seized the first opportunity to go the US, working at Amazon, where I grew and became Engineering Manager. After five years I came back to France to join BlaBlaCar.
My advice is to avoid uninformed pieces of advice and widen your horizons as soon as you can. If you like maths, enjoy solving logical problems, or have a dream app in mind, then go for it!

It’s true that the engineering world, and in particular the tech sector is male-dominated. But this has never been an obstacle or something difficult to live with on a daily basis. On the opposite, being the exception allows you to bring diversity to a team. In the US, my first team was multicultural: colleagues from Brazil, China, Mexico-American, an Indian Manager and myself, the only women, and of a different nationality! The difficulty lies in the absence of female models who have thrived in this sector and that we’d like to identify with, whether at the beginning of our career, or ten years down the line. I hope that our testimonials will help you take the leap.

Alizée Camarasa

I’ve been an Android developer for 2 years. We are a team of 4 and we all work on different parts of the Android BlaBlaCar app, adding new features, correcting bugs or improving performance. My job consists in writing code giving life to the features conceived with Product Managers and the UX/UI Designers.
I studied at Métiers du Multimedia et de l’internet. I then integrated engineering school IMAC which brings together arts with science studies. In my last year, I chose to specialise in web and mobile. After a first year of internship, I joined BlaBlaCar.

We frequently ask female developers if this career path isn’t too difficult considering the small number of women in this space. But truth is, I alway felt at ease in this sector. My mother was a Developer too, and then an Engineering Manager, which must have helped me to project myself. But even at university, 40% of my class were women. It’s only when I joined the workforce that I realised how few women worked in tech. My message to other women is therefore: Girls, if you are passionate about computer science, go for it, nothing will stop you!

Sophie Sysavath

I joined BlaBlaCar over a year ago as a Data Analyst. My job consists in accompanying the changes that the teams bring to the website or mobile apps. At the beginning of the project, I support the thinking around potential improvements by providing analyses based on usage data. Once the team has defined the new feature they will build, I set up the processes allowing us to assess whether we have met our objectives and really eased our member’s carpooling experience. 
After studying in engineering school (Supélec and IFP School), I started by working in the energy sector (as an economist at Total), and in a strategy consultancy. I am comfortable changing domains and jobs to ensure that I do something that I love. And this is actually the best advice I can give: Dare!

Perrine Boissières

I have been a Front-End Developer for two years. This consists in creating and improving the website and app’s interfaces, or in other words the pages that are seen and used by our millions of members. I was interested in tech since I was a child, already creating websites back in school. After my baccalaureate I studied at Supinfo but stopped after two and half years to join Isart digital which provides training on web and mobile tech for video games, another great passion of mine!
Out of the 18 people in my class at Isart, I was the only girl, but it wasn’t unpleasant since we all shared a same passion. There were no barriers. 
My message is: don’t be afraid to share your passions and preferences. Nevermind if they are strange or outside of the norm. Some people will also share them with you and that will bring you closer!

Nicola-Marie O’Donovan

I’m an Agile coach at BlaBlaCar. What is Agile? Here is a short video I created with Engineering manager and artist Jean-Marc Charles.

I evolved into my role as an Agile Coach by follow topics and technologies that interest me. I began as a Software Engineer after graduating from a Bachelors in Computer Science (Honours) Software Systems Development in Ireland. This was a great beginning working on the full software development lifecycle which gave me experience in requirements, coding, testing, process and working in global teams. During this time my work was in a Waterfall plan driver approach, I became interested in Agile methodologies and the benefits it has for software development.

I developed my career and worked in 6 countries. As well as my roles as an Agile coach and Software Engineer I have enjoyed roles including being a Program Manager, Scrum Master, Technical Writer, University Tutor and Trainer.

I keep my knowledge current with a balance of technical and personal development training for example, Scrum Master Certification, VCA-DCV certification (VMware Certified Associate — Data Center Virtualization), masters modules in Teaching and Learning for Graduate Studies, Training & Education diploma, Quality Assurance certification, Digital Six Sigma Green belt training.

I was delighted to participate in the Web Summit Women in Tech mentorship programme being one of 75 mentors from across the globe where mentees had 20 minutes 1:1 speaking time with me. I participate also in Established Career Women TechMakers.
 
My advice for both women and men interested in a career in technology is — be curious and follow your passion. Try new things — methods and technologies. Evolve in your career, you will learn new things and meet new people. There are so many options in technology, this is one of the reasons I enjoy it.

Convinced? Dear women: please join the adventure, we need you!