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Sciences and technologies are meant for everyone, both men and women!

Part of the Gaia-X Voices: Women in Tech campaign

Inspired by pioneers like Marie Curie or Ada Lovelace, Martine Gouriet, Gaia-X board member and Director of Digital Uses at Edf Group advocates for gender equality in tech. She believes in the importance of diversity for addressing skills shortages and advises aspiring women in STEM to dare to try, seek role models, and embrace support.  


Can you introduce yourself, your role in the Gaia-X community, and your current position in the tech sector?

I am Martine Gouriet, a board member of Gaia-X and Director of Digital Uses within Edf Group.

Can you briefly walk us through your career journey in technology/science, highlighting key milestones and experiences? Were there specific moments that significantly influenced your career path?

I have a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in mathematics, and I studied advanced mathematics during my preparatory classes before joining École Polytechnique, which is one of the most prestigious science schools in France, renowned for its excellence in science education. After that, I worked in the telecommunications field for 15 years, with the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Internet and launch the first IP television services.

I then joined EDF to lead a subsidiary that developed the first platform dedicated to energy services. Later, I took over the central IT services direction at EDF, focusing on infrastructures, data development, and digital platform services, and transforming the direction to be more agile and digital. For the past 4 years, I have been the Director of Digital Usages for the Group. I coordinate the development of all digital group usages, including collaborative usages, and I have the pleasure of contributing to the development of our beautiful association, Gaia-X.

I had the great opportunity to witness an extraordinary moment in scientific and technical history. On one hand, there was the emergence of the internet and its remarkable developments. On the other hand, smartphones made their appearance, leading to a revolution in how we use technology. And now, I am involved in the third revolution with data and artificial intelligence. Choosing a mathematical and technical career from the outset allowed me to understand the broader implications that extend beyond mere technical aspects and are reshaping the world.

What challenges have you encountered as a woman in the tech industry, and how did you overcome them?

Since I was 16 years old, I have been living in a predominantly male environment. There are 4 girls out of 40 in preparatory classes, 10% of girls at the École Polytechnique, and even now there are approximately 10% of women in leadership positions in technical fields and in all the circles I frequent. 

Living in a world of men teaches you to be strong, but it also teaches you that unfortunately, all sexist and misogynistic behaviours are still very far from disappearing. I have a clear and public stance on this: I never let any sexist or misogynistic remarks pass, no matter how small. And when necessary, I don’t hesitate to impose disciplinary measures.

Moreover, I believe that symbolically, it is important to show that women have a role to play in science and mathematics. Therefore, in all our images and publications, there should be equal representation of women and men, and names should be feminized.  I never say “engineer” anymore; I say “engineer” for both men and women. In French, no more “ingénieur” but “ingénieur’” and “ingénieure”.

Who are some of your role models or sources of inspiration in the tech/science field? How important do you think it is for women to have strong female role models in the industry?

We have true pioneers in the fields of science and technology. Of course, there’s Marie Curie, who received 2 Nobel Prizes. But there’s also Ada Lovelace, less well-known, yet a pioneer in computer science

These are two truly inspiring examples that show that science is not a field reserved for men. Unfortunately, even today, there is still a tendency to think that women should be destined for caregiving professions or those related to children, while the so-called ‘hard’ sciences are reserved for men. In our modern society, one of my role models is my friend Anne Bouverot, a great scientist, business leader, and a pioneer in AI, an exceptional figure in the world of technology and artificial intelligence. Another role model is Elisabeth Moreno, a former minister in charge of gender equality and a business leader. She has incredible energy, and her life itself serves as a model. She is really inspiring!

In the context of the 2024 theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” why do you think diversity and inclusion are crucial in the tech and science sectors?

The topic is crucial for two reasons. First, sciences and technologies shape the future of the world and help address multiple challenges, including those in my field of energy transition. Women should not be excluded from building this future. Second, we face a shortage of people and skills in these technical domains. Depriving ourselves of half of humanity and half of these competencies is economically unwise.

What advice would you give to young women and girls aspiring to enter the STEM fields? How can women support and uplift each other in the male-dominated tech/science industry?

I will give them this simple advice: always dare to try. Sciences and technologies are meant for everyone, both men and women. The second point is to seek out role models and mentors who can support and guide them in their surroundings. I play this role myself for many young girls, and I believe it is very useful.

On a lighter note, if you could choose a superpower to make your work in tech even more incredible, what would it be, and how would it help you tackle the challenges of the digital world?

Sometimes I compare myself to the goddess Kali because, like many women, I always juggle multiple tasks on all fronts. I wish I truly had the power to have 8 arms like her so that can do everything simultaneously!