February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This year, it focused on the role of women, girls and science in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and on this occasion Prométhée decided to honor one of these women, Juliette Aumonier, BID Manager at Prométhée Earth Intelligence.
What does International Day of Women and Girls in Science represent?
This highlights the fact that women can study and have scientific careers today. It’s important to show female profiles, to prove that there are not only male scientists. Today, we need role models for young girls, who need to identify with these women scientists, to feel represented and able to set their sights on scientific training.
What was your relationship with science when you were younger, and how did you get into this sector?
My background is a bit atypical for a woman of science! First of all, I’m not an engineer and I didn’t study science. I began by studying geography. What appealed to me most in this field was anything to do with scientific disciplines such as geomorphology, cartography or cartographic statistics.
During my studies I did internships in climatology and remote sensing, including satellite imagery. I started work straight after the FAC, following an internship at Spot Image – part of Airbus – which is the place in France that specializes in remote sensing and satellite imagery. In fact, I never said to myself, “I’m going to be a woman of science!
How would you describe your career in a few words?
My journey has been one of constant learning. I’ve learned things as I’ve gone along, and I’m at a stage where technology has progressed a lot. When I went to school, there were no computers. When I started working, these were the first desktop computers, apart from the big machines that took care of the servers. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up with the evolution of this science.
As a woman of science, what’s it like to be surrounded by men?
Not just that… At Prométhée Earth Intelligence, in Toulouse alone, 30% of our employees are women, and even if we’re not yet on an equal footing, we’re working on it every day. Let’s not forget that only 28% of women are enrolled in engineering courses. In fact, I’ve always worked for parity, and I was part of a club at Airbus called Balance For Business Women In Aerospace, where we carried out a number of initiatives to present these technical professions and show that they are not gendered occupations. At the same time, we explain what they mean, because when you’re a student, you don’t fully understand what’s behind the term “engineer”. I’ve done presentations for high schools and schools. I was a judge at a science competition called C’est Génial , where I awarded prizes to teams that were mostly female.
What difficulties might a woman of science encounter?
I talked to women who had studied engineering at the highest level and had large teams. These women found it more difficult to move up the hierarchy, where they often found themselves alone with all-male managers. Even if there’s no technical difference, it’s more difficult to make oneself heard. It’s a group effect, because you find yourself alone in a group.
Women and girls play a key role in the scientific and technological community, and their participation needs to be strengthened. That’s why it was important for Prométhée to highlight this International Day through Juliette’s story.