Actively involved with “Elles bougent for career choice guidance”
- 50% of the high-school students in Mathematics and Physics-Chemistry specialties are female, but their number drops to 25% in Engineering School. The association Elles bougent has set itself the goal of changing that situation. Elles bougent is an inter-company network of engineers and technicians who provide information to high-school pupils, students, parents and teachers on the different career possibilities in the scientific and technical sectors.
- TotalEnergies has been a partner since 2011, and takes part in awareness-raising forums to help young women discover the energy sector, the professions involved and how to train for them. To date, almost 150 female mentors have joined the network to share their experience with young women in the throes of planning their professional careers.
- The first edition of the international event Elles bougent for career choice guidance was held as a live attendance event on December 09, 2021, in a great many schools and educational establishments. Employees from TotalEnergies in Pau took an active role in the event to help participants discover their professions, jobs and assignments and contribute to dispelling stereotypes.
Talking about your profession to help others find their vocation.
Caroline GOULAY, Celine BARBERAN, Caroline CHAMPAUX-MARTINEZ, Anne-Gaëlle SAINT-GUIRONS, Prune BOUILLO-MEYER and Blandine CAILLY want to contribute to making gender diversity at work a sustainable value, underpinned by equal rights. They readily accepted to promote engineering, training courses and technical professions to young girls in middle schools and high schools in Nay, Lescar, Pau and Tarbes. They all agreed that the operation is a highly productive one, and that the live accounts, listening to what students have to say and discussing the issues involved with them, can trigger enthusiasm for vocations in the professions of the future in industry.
They were able to take part in the event during their working hours thanks to the Action! program, which enables all employees in our Company to give of their time for general interest work.
“For the last 15 years now, the number of female students in engineering schools has stagnated at around 25%, after the linear increase in numbers when the schools were open to girls after May '68”, explains Blandine disconsolately. She is Head of the Data Quality and Modeling service at TotalEnergies, and has already heard disparaging comments from one of her male colleagues like: having women in science isn’t natural… “That’s why I wanted to devote my time to encouraging young girls to take these kinds of courses – they are more than capable of doing so, but lack self-confidence and are put off by the stereotypes created by their families, schools and society in general” she explains, adding that she discovered Elles Bougent in 2015 through TotalEnergies.
Acting on self-censorship
One of the main concerns for young women thinking of careers in this sector is how to balance out their personal and professional lives. “All too often, when people think of scientists, the image that comes to mind is still very masculine,” says Caroline regretfully. She is a Senior exploration geologist engineer at TotalEnergies. “When I was younger, I would have loved to have met women working in different industrial sectors and been able to discuss things in a calm, relaxed setting, as we were able to do in the forums with Elles bougent. In addition to talking about my career path, it was important for me to talk about my experience as a woman, a young mother and an Engineer in the oil & gas industry. Embarking on scientific and technical career paths does not mean giving up on a healthy work/life balance!”
Anne-Gaëlle, Head of the Geoinformation project at TotalEnergies also mentions the importance of talking about career possibilities and the wide range of professions open to women in the engineering sector: “During our discussions, I explained how I wound up doing the job I do today. High school students have a lot of questions about the choice of the subjects they are going to major in and the impact that their decisions may have on subsequent career opportunities. They need to be reassured and realize that opportunities are constructed little by little.”
“We can definitely sense a certain degree of stress as regards the baccalaureate reforms and the choice of options, sometimes even beyond the idea of choosing a professional career. I think we also need to encourage them to go and find the information they are looking for, to be brave and give it a try. They need to ask around them about the different professions in the sector, attend forums, work internships and above all, if they find that they suddenly feel more interested in a particular area, to pursue it. It doesn’t matter what the profession is, the right one is first and foremost, the one they choose. We also need to remember to reassure these young women that their career will not necessarily involve working in one, but a series of different professions” adds Céline, Geophysicist and Engineer at TotalEnergies.
Don’t put obstacles in your way, dare to do what you want to do – women and men can do exactly the same jobs. That’s the key message that the mentors from TotalEnergies wanted to get across.