Women In Tech: Portrait of Geneviève, entrepreneur and code cruncher
Today is March 8th, and it’s International Women's Rights Day. For this occasion, and in perfect timing with our "Women in Tech" series of portraits of female developers nexten.io has helped launch, we take you on a trip with Geneviève, a young French entrepreneur eager to learn more.
Carried away by the French capital’s energy—between “startup nation” spirit and the ensuing entrepreneurial movement—Geneviève launched her own business at the age of 21, just as she was preparing her second year of studies for a degree in computer science. Her motto? It's through writing code that you become a developer! Three years later, she looks back on her various experiences in the IT sector as a Black developer in Paris.
nexten.io: Hi, Geneviève! It's a pleasure to have you with us on this special day for women! Can you start by introducing yourself in a few words?
Geneviève: Yes indeed! I’m Geneviève, 24, and in my last year of school in computer science and engineering and therefore offer my services as a web developer to companies. After my PhD, I hope to join a company to specialize in AI, my favorite field.
I also created my YouTube channel, through which I offer training and tutorials in development.
nexten.io: You decided to launch your own business at the age of 21 while you were studying. At the same time, you also started your YouTube channel and created educational content. That’s quite forward-thinking, and at such an early age! What do you attribute that to?
Geneviève: To be honest, I really don't know. I think it's the accumulation of several passions—combined with my personal curiosity—that naturally pushed me towards entrepreneurship and more broadly towards the idea that you have to make the leap—even if you miss the mark the first time around. I was eager to put my knowledge into practice. I've been coding since the end of high school, and I’ve had plenty of hurdles to cross!
I started out slowly, creating my business in 2017, but I didn’t really start to develop it until 2018 and into early 2019. At first, I was only proposing small maintenance services, especially for e-merchant websites—fixing a few bugs here and there. Little by little, I was able to gain the trust of my clients, and they started throwing larger projects at me. Now I work on AI projects—my favorite field!
Moreover, living in Paris, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by an economic and cultural atmosphere that encourages people to start their own business. Between the startup fever sweeping France and our generation that’s redoubling its creativity to create videos and podcasts, the stars lined up! For me, taking the step was quite natural. Around me, other people of my generation didn't hesitate to take the plunge, create videos, and forge communities around topics that were important to them. That's why I was never really afraid because I could see that I didn't need to be an expert to get people interested. The important thing was to remain authentic and prove that being a beginner and gradually getting better at it is just as valuable as being a veteran developer.
nexten.io: Today is International Women's Rights Day. Are there any women in IT who inspire you?
Geneviève: In the same "startup" vein, I could mention Mayuko, a Japanese-American developer in the Silicon Valley, working with Netflix, among others. I also love the work of the American programmer Bukola, a Black developer working for Google, a rare occurrence in the development field! Developers of color—women included—are still too few and far between in this sector. Lastly, and on another note, I listen a lot to Pauline Laigneau's business-related podcasts.
nexten.io: Have you ever faced any form of discrimination regarding the content and advice you post on YouTube?
Geneviève: Not once! No one’s ever made a disparaging comment about my skin color or gender on my YouTube channel. Quite the opposite: the comments I receive are very positive and even encouraging! I'm proud that my videos are inspiring some people to get started. It's rare in the tech industry to see Black female developers speaking on social networks and creating content to train their peers. It’s inevitable to feel out of place when there are few represented where you want to be, you may not feel like you belong. Which, of course, is completely wrong! One's gender or ethnicity shouldn’t matter. Well, afterwards, we won't hide it: the fact of talking about computer science, of being a Black female developer on YouTube, it's still quite political. Questions are raised about the representation of women and diversity, in particular.
So no, I’ve never experienced discrimination in my journey. I sure hope it stays that way!
nexten.io: Do you think it's normal that some women don't dare to start coding because of the stereotypical image developers have, which is still a bit too masculine?
Geneviève: To be sure, that is going to make some of us feel apprehensive. However, women have their place by right—they don't have to ask for permission. So yes, we’re suffering the cultural consequences of a society that has long viewed certain professions through gender-filtered glasses. But that time is now behind us! This sort of discrimination no longer belongs in today’s society. The real challenge comes more from the people who feel threatened by these new profiles. But we must keep in mind that they’re the ones that feel so bothered—not us.
nexten.io: Do you encourage women to train for these jobs?
Geneviève: Absolutely, if it's your project idea, don't hesitate! If it's the fear of being isolated, you can always find another female figure to support you, either within your team or through online communities, social networks, or other avenues of support.
Now, it's up to you to ask yourself the right questions: you shouldn't go into IT just because it's an emerging sector and there's work to be done. You really need to have an appetite for IT subjects, as it is a field that requires a lot of personal work and perseverance. The apprenticeship phase can be particularly ungrateful because it is very frustrating!
nexten.io: What solution(s) would you bring to raise awareness among women and reduce this gap between male and female staff in tech?
Geneviève: Personally, I know two organizations that offer this type of movement. Décodeuses (Editor's note: French for “women who decipher or interpret”), an association where I took a course to learn how to use WordPress. Then there’s the Ada Tech School, which invites women to follow trainings amongst themselves to foster their growth in these jobs.
nexten.io: Do you listen to music while working? If so, what's your favorite playlist?
Geneviève: I’m currently a fan of the Marvin Gaye concert from 1971—the one in Amsterdam! Otherwise, mostly classical music because it doesn’t have lyrics and helps me relax and stay focused. Check my playlist here!
nexten.io: Do you have any final words?
Geneviève: You bet. I’d like to come back to one point and expand on it a little more. I've noticed that my YouTube channel has helped raise an issue that hasn't been widely discussed: a need for representation, which is terribly silent, for women and people of different ethnicities who want to get started in computer development. If this subject concerns you as well, the best way to participate in spreading the word is by establishing a regular presence on your own social networks. Develop your online image to participate in changing the codes! Let's show everyone who we are—that we exist. We, too, are eager to mentor, inspire, and build content!
No Comments Yet
Let us know what you think
You May Also Like
these related stories