Women victims of the Matilda effect in digital

Women victims of the Matilda effect in digital

The Tech and digital sector has had an unenviable reputation for ages. This exclusively male environment would not interest women. International Women’s Day helps to challenge this preconceived idea.

Women have often been at the origin of great innovations from which global Tech has greatly benefited. Hedy Lamarr, for example, who was a woman of science, best known in the 1930s as the most beautiful Hollywood actress in the world. But between two shootings we owe him the development in 1941 of an encryption system to radioguide, without risk of jamming the waves, the torpedoes of submarines. His invention can be found today in all wireless technologies, Wi-Fi, GPS, mobile telephonyor Bluetooth. On the other hand, the recognition of his contributions has been largely overshadowed, both by the men of yesterday and those of today, unable to integrate that one can be a brilliant scientist and a movie star.

One can also quote the mathematician Ada Lovelace who created in 1842, the first computer program of the world which functioned at the time on the mechanical ancestor of the computer. And we could thus multiply the examples of these innovators “invisibilized” by a world of Tech dominated by men. All victims of the Matilda effect, named in memory of Matilda Joslyn Gag, one of the first to have denounced the systematic denial of the contributions of women in science, tells us Estelle Landry project manager at Pix. This online public service supported by Europe and the French government, its mission is to support the improvement of citizens’ digital skills.

“Breaking down barriers and smashing received ideas”

The American, science historian Margaret Rossiter has demonstrated that this phenomenon of denial of the contributions of women in the field of science was systematic with the consequence of the recurrent attribution of their discoveries to the benefit of their male colleagues.She coined the term “Matilda Effect” in memory of Matilda Joslyn Gag, a 19th-century American feminist activist who noticed that men constantly took credit for women’s intellectual thoughts. This phenomenon of denial is very present in the digital professions, Tech and scientific sectors, according to a survey carried out at the request of the European Commission. Of all women graduates, only 13% of them choose to exercise their talents in digital professions. I remain convinced that it is a story of education and Pix online public service has given itself the mission of promote tech jobs in high schools, colleges and with all citizens, men and women, to demonstrate that digital professions are accessible to all, to break down barriers and smash received ideas about these professional sectors which are not only reserved for men. »

While each sector of activity must represent the plurality of profiles of the French population, gender parity within the Tech ecosystem becomes essential. This parity would make it possible to respond to the shortage of talent that all sectors of activity combined have had to face for several years, alert many associations for the defense of women’s rights. A parity defended today by large companies which have become entirely dependent on digital innovations.