[8 March] Maxime tells us about “Girls can code!”

08 March 2023 Corporate social responsibility Story

Maxime Debert, Cybersecurity Team Manager at Naval Group, is organising the “Girls can code!” course with the University of Toulon and the Association Prologin. This event aims to allow female secondary and high school students to discover software development and thereby attract more women in this field.

What is your role in organising the “Girls can code!” course?

I have been leading organisation of the course since November, searching for funds and partners, looking for premises, devising the program, identifying participants, managing logistics, etc. The course this year will be held in Toulon in April. As a member of the Diversity and Inclusion network in Ollioules, I was supported by Isabelle Gruhn, Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Véronique Jaubert, Attractivity and Talents Manager, notably in setting up the partnership with Université de Toulon and availing of their computer rooms.

I am keen to call only on women from our company, enabling female secondary and high school students to see themselves in the world of software development. This year, a number of female developers from Naval Group will be taking part.

A Diversity and Inclusion Officer who is also liaison officer for Elles bougent association, is now helping to organise the “Girls can code!” course in Toulon. What made you want to get involved?

During my studies, I was made aware of “science and technology” feminism thanks to discussions with Marie-Sophie Pawlak, a female engineer who founded Elles bougent. The fact that 50% of female high school students study science in their final year but only 33% of engineering college students are women motivated me to become a liaison officer for the association. For the past six years, I have been visiting secondary schools and high schools along with other professionals to present engineering and science careers, hoping to arouse the interest of girls in the field.

It was during these events that I heard about the association Prologin and the “Girls can code!” course, organised in several cities in France. I liked what they were doing and wanted to take part in setting up the course in Toulon. I believe it is important for me to show my commitment to diversity and inclusion, in particular in my field, as historically, there have never been as many women as men in software development.

This domain saw significant progress in the fifties and sixties, thanks to brilliant women like Grace Hopper to whom we owe the first programming languages or Margaret Hamilton who developed a prioritisation and execution system for asynchronous tasks. Men dominated the field in the seventies, as soon as software development became a profession with high added value. It is my hope and desire that cognitive biases won’t influence career choices in this day and age. I hope that events like “Girls can code!” will contribute to encouraging female talent. I’m really proud to be part of an organisation that supports this project and other initiatives taken by the diversity and inclusion network.

Why do you think software development attracts more men than women?

The “geeky” image is prevalent in this field and is often associated with men. However, I believe that the skills required for a software developer in terms of maths, logic, etc. are not restricted to one gender or another.

We look forward to meeting a large number of secondary and high school students in Toulon on 17 and 18 April and hope to attract them to the fields of software development and cybersecurity! We will also address the cyber field by means of an exercise - “Girls can hack!”