Portraits / Key personalities

Women researchers' voices

Changed on 11/02/2022
On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, three researchers from the Inria centre at the University of Lille, Valeria LOSCRI (Fun team), Hélène LE CADRE (Inocs team) and Sophie CERF (Spirals team), explain their careers and give their advice.

Hélène LE CADRE, researcher in Inocs team

Citation Hélène Le cadre anglais

I am a researcher in the Inocs project-team at Inria, which develops mathematical optimisation methods applied to different sectors such as energy or telecommunications. I am a specialist in game theory (whose objective is to analyse the strategies of competing agents) and in the development of algorithms to calculate the equilibrium solutions of these games. More specifically, I am interested in problems where agents share a limited resource (capacity of energy production or storage technologies, bandwidth in telecoms), and each agent seeks to selfishly maximise its utility function. This game gives rise to a set of equilibria, which it is interesting to explore. The algorithms I am working on must allow, via equilibrium selection, to arbitrate between a certain number of criteria (economic efficiency, equity, confidentiality of the agents' data).

I did a Master's degree in mathematics and computer science at the University of Rennes 1 and an engineering school in parallel (IMT Atlantique). This double curriculum allowed me to learn both probability and statistics and information processing. I then did a thesis on game theory for communication networks and post-doctorates at the University of Versailles and then at the CEA in a team specialising in artificial intelligence. After an experience abroad, I joined Inria in 2021.

It all depends on the field, but in my field women are under-represented, especially in certain age groups. In my team, it's fairly mixed and I don't feel any particular pressure because of my gender. During my studies there were already fewer women than men, especially after my Magisterium, as many women went into teaching (secondary school, preparatory school).

My only advice would be to go for it, not to put barriers in your way, to do what you want: there will always be people with a gendered approach, but it is important not to fall into stereotypes.

Sophie CERF, researcher in Spirals team

Sophie Cerf citation anglais

I am a researcher in the Spirals team at the Inria Centre at the University of Lille. I do multidisciplinary research between computer science and automation, studying tools that allow for example to control software, but also aspects such as carbon footprint, energy cost or private data.

After a scientific baccalaureate and a preparatory class, I entered an engineering school (Centrale Lyon) and discovered control, computing and the world of research in general. I continued with a thesis in automation at the GIPSA Lab, with a break in industry at the Zurich research centre, then joined Inria in Grenoble. I arrived at the Lille centre six months ago.

In my field, I notice that there are fewer women. I've had a lot of discussions with other women, whether in my teams or during my studies: I've always found that there is an additional solidarity that is welcome. However, I have the impression that the number of women in higher education has not increased much in recent years.

Above all, we must do what motivates us. It's all very well to listen to the advice of those close to us, teachers or parents, but it's our career that matters: what counts is following our motivations. Whatever your gender or social background, if you are interested in a job, you should trust yourself and not hesitate.

Valeria LOSCRI, researcher in Fun team

Citation Valeria anglais
photo Christian Morel

I am a researcher in the Fun team of the Inria Centre of the University of Lille since October 2013. I work on wireless communication, in particular on innovative technologies such as VLC (visible light communication) and electromagnetic reprogramming of the environment to achieve more efficient, secure and sustainable communications. What motivates me is to explore new technologies to create services that are not imaginable today.

Of Italian origin, I did most of my studies at the University of Calabria with a degree in computer engineering. I then continued my studies with a thesis on telecommunication and computer systems, and was a visiting researcher at RICE University (Houston, USA). I then collaborated with the University of Calabria and arrived in France in 2013 at Inria.

Actions should be taken to strengthen the presence of women in science. Today there are not many of us, but there are very interesting paths for everyone. The subjects are not gendered, mathematics and science in general are not reserved for men. I think it's interesting to have a diversity of profiles in research, it brings a multitude of ways of thinking. We are under-represented today, but what is certain is that if a person is passionate about science, they should go for it!

If I have any advice to give, it is to pursue one's own passions, avoiding being influenced by the opinions of others. It's not easy to distinguish constructive advice from clichéd advice. Sometimes you find people on your path who believe in you and sometimes you don't: the most important thing is to believe in yourself.