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Occupations with "equal opportunities"

Clément Mondon and Aurore Hermant - © Inria

Last October, Aurore Hermant became one of the seven women who make up the Research Team Support Department (SAER) at Inria Lille. Clément Mondon is one of six men who form the centre's IT department (SIC). Although these two respective departments currently comprise exclusively women or exclusively men, there is nothing necessarily feminine or masculine about either role.

What is involved in your work at Inria?

Aurore Hermant: As a research team assistant, I work directly for the project teams. Like all research team assistants, I am assigned to several different teams. We are the teams' first point of contact to help with travel arrangements, procurements, administrative tasks, and we provide an interface with the other departments at the centre. We also do budgetary monitoring and prepare the files for the recruitment of non-permanent personnel (interns, post-doctoral researchers, etc.), as well as providing assistance for team staff-members. In all these respects, we lighten the workload for the researchers, in addition to offering advice and alerting them to any issues that may arise, if need be.

Clément Mondon: I am a systems and networks administration engineer. The SIC is the IT department. We manage all the centre's IT systems. We provide the technical resources to keep the various services and departments working properly. We are also in charge of managing the administrative and support workstations, and we provide assistance to the researchers. The researchers can come and consult with us and we help them formalise their needs and deploy the appropriate solutions.

What skills does your work require?

CM: Managing the infrastructure that the personnel of Inria depends on requires thoroughness, a sense of responsibility, and curiosity since the researchers are always well informed about the latest developments. We have to stay constantly up to date to be able to offer advice on the deployment of new tools.

AH: You have to be organised, thorough, and have a good understanding of how the centre works, as well as the status of the different staff members. You also need solid financial basics and a respect of confidentiality. The job requires good interpersonal skills, the ability to talk to different kinds of people and a certain proficiency in English, since there are so many researchers from foreign countries.

What do you like about your profession?

CM: It's never dull. We are always testing new technologies and we have time to keep abreast of technological developments. That's essential if we are to offer a useful perspective on things and form the kind of solid, reliable arguments that the researchers expect.

AH: I like the versatility of my job. We make the preparations for trips and procurements, but it's not always the same thing because the researchers travel all over the world. And we really do assist the teams: budget monitoring, communication, and much more. I really feel like I'm involved in the work of the researchers.

Could your job be done by a man?

AH: Of course.

By a woman ?

CM: Naturally. Our skills have nothing to do with gender.

Your respective departments are composed entirely of women or entirely of men. Do you think that could change?

AH: I worked alongside men more often in my previous jobs at Inra, and when I was at university.

CM: In the field of IT, there's a clear gender disparity right from the youngest ages. If you have as many as four girls in a computer engineering class of 100 students, that's considered quite good. So the mixing of the sexes in my profession is a much bigger question than just in relation to Inria.

Are things starting to change in that regard?

CM: A lot of progress was made in the 60s and 70s with regard to getting women into male-dominated professions. So why not more of the same in the coming years? But again, it's not something that depends solely on Inria.

AH: It was already starting to change when I took the civil service entrance exam. So yes, I don't see why not.

Keywords: Gender equality Departments Profile Interview