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Karine Leroy has been a Human Resources (HR) manager at Inria Lille-Northern Europe since 2011. This centre’s HR department is made up of six people, all of them women. Julien Vandaele is an engineer in the Experimentation and Development department (SED), which is made up of five male engineers, and he is also a member of the Fun project team. It’s pure chance that these two departments aren’t more mixed in terms of gender.

What are your duties here at Inria?

Karine Leroy: As a human resources manager, I’m in charge of the administrative management that goes along with recruitment, as well as supporting civil servants and contract workers in their careers. I put everything in order in terms of payroll, and manage recruitment campaigns, especially when we’re looking for young engineers who have just finished their studies, or senior engineers as the case may be. These recruitment campaigns are a job that I share with a colleague. We share a portfolio of teams and departments as well as most recruitment campaigns.

Julien Vandaele: I’m an SED engineer, so I work in the Experimentation and Development department. As a permanent engineer, I’m an expert in software development, and I dare say that I know Inria’s tools fairly well. Just like the other five SED engineers, I advise the teams on software tools and methods, and as a developer, I undertake 2-3 year commitments as technical support for researchers.

What skills are necessary in your job?

K. L.: This job requires precision, organisation, and good listening skills in order to properly welcome employees and understand their needs. Working in an HR department requires discretion and a respect for confidentiality.

J. V.: Beyond our work as engineers, we also teach training sessions. For example, as part of the Fun team, I’m training four engineers who are here on fixed-term contracts. You have to be a good teacher in order to train them, you have to know how to organise, you have to be able manage remote work. In terms of the FIT project for example, we’re collaborating with other Inria teams in Grenoble and Rocquencourt, as well as two universities in Paris and Strasbourg. Another part of my job is acting as a technological advisor and monitor.

What do you like about your job?

K. L.: I like the wide array of activities and my role as the person who welcomes and advises people from different countries.

J. V.: I get a lot out of the job itself and out of the Fun team, which is a multi-site project with external partners. I don’t feel lonely since the Fun team is fairly young and made up of several different nationalities. Culturally, it’s very enriching.

Could your job be done by either sex?

K. L.: Of course it could, but there’s a majority of women in the various roles that make up human resources.

J. V.: I don’t feel like I’m in a particularly masculine environment since SED is spread out throughout the research teams. The Fun team is fairly well balanced, with some female engineers on fixed-term contracts. Also, there were several women who were part of SED here in Lille in the past, either as engineers or as managers. Overall though, it is true that there are fewer women than men in the software development training sessions.

Do you think that this will change?

J. V.: The SED at Inria’s Grenoble centre has two women among its 10 permanent engineers. I’ve done a little recruiting for project teams. Over four years, we’ve recruited two women. It’s very interesting to have mixed teams—the men are generally a little more technically advanced, while the women have a wider view, with better fundamental understanding.

K. L.: We hired a new woman to work with us last September. My manager had pre-selected some male candidates and interviewed them with an eye on possibly hiring them. In the end, though, she chose a female candidate because she fulfilled more of the selection criteria in terms of expertise, experience, and interpersonal skills. Inria’s HR departments are mostly staffed by women, but some HR departments in other centres have male employees, or even male directors.

Keywords: Departments Gender equality Profile Interview