A new, inaccessible language, gender prejudices, conservative attitudes to digital: for a young female maths graduate, there are countless obstacles along the path to being a revolutionary. But this didn’t stop Ludwine Probst, winner of the Excellencia prize 2014 (prize awarded to women who have distinguished themselves in the digital industry in France, Ed): if anything, these challenges spurred her on to forge a career and bring about social changes, campaigning to make the language of the digital revolution accessible to everyone…
In 2010, Ludwine Probst, who had a Masters in mathematics and absolutely no IT experience, was offered a job in a digital company. But instead of being put off by the difficulties, she examined them and looked for solutions:
“People often say Google’s our worst enemy …but if you ask it the right questions, it comes up with brilliant answers!”
Probst then discovered MOOCs, free online courses, such as Openclassrooms and Coursera, and learned the language of tomorrow: computer coding.
As easy as learning a foreign language
But isn’t learning all by yourself difficult? On the contrary, stresses Ludwine Probst: these online forums – like the digital culture as a whole – are ideal for sharing and helping. For Probst, learning IT language is like learning a foreign language:
“IT is open to everyone! Of course it’s not everyone’s thing, but it’s potentially just as easy as learning a language. Once you know the basics, (the syntax and vocabulary), you can do lots.”
But are schools sufficiently equipped? Not always, but you can get round this problem by gradually implementing the right digital tools:
“You can start by learning IT and coding with a pen and paper, then move onto a computer where you can learn other stuff like creating web pages.”
The real issue is not the tools though, it’s exploring a new way to learn and solve problems: “It’s essential to have a new weapon,” says Probst. Another far greater challenge is adapting learning conditions to suit everyone from children to senior citizens – a problem that no amount of online searches can solve. So Ludwine Probst decided to do something about it.
Sharing knowledge: “It’s about breaking down barriers”
As head of Duchess France, Ludwine Probst decided to promote female role models in order to change attitudes. This non-profit organisation allows women in the IT industry to meet and network, with a view to raising their profile in the industry and speaking at conferences.
“At the moment here aren’t many women in the high-tech and IT field and they feel a bit isolated,” said Probst in her acceptance speech for the Excellencia prize, which aims to promote women in the industry. “There are still a number of obstacles,” she went on, whilst clearly asserting her commitment as a digital maker:
“People who are in the digital industry and share their knowledge help to promote the industry, and that’s what breaks down barriers. A number of women are put off pursuing a career in IT for the wrong reasons, so we need to dispel these prejudices.”
By combatting prejudices we can shed a new light on the digital industry and build a fairer society: for being a digital maker isn’t just about rhetoric, it’s about taking action to make changes that benefit everyone. Are you with us?
Photo credits: A computer class at a rural secondary school in La Ceja del Tambo par World Bank Photo Collection (Flickr, Licence CC by 2.0)