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Profile: Lætitia Avrot, Field CTO for EDB

Women in Tech: “It’s possible for any woman with grit and passion to succeed”

Sarah Schlothauer

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Lætitia Avrot, Field CTO for EDB.

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Lætitia Avrot, Field CTO for EDB.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Lætitia Avrot, Field CTO for EDB

Lætitia Avrot is Field CTO for EDB in France. She has worked as an IT engineer since the early 00s.
She’s involved with the PostgreSQL community as she was elected PostgreSQL Europe’s treasurer, she co-founded Postgres Women, and she’s a recognized PostgreSQL project contributor.

When did you become interested in technology? What first got you interested in tech?

I was introduced to technology at a very early age because of my dad’s passion for computers. We always had a computer at home, which was not common in the early 1980s. My dad also had very strict principles around using the computer. He believed that a computer was meant for programming, not for video games. That’s why he gave me a programming book when I was eight years old. The language I learned at the time was Basic. I remembered that I had changed the compiler and the computer was writing “But I’m not crazy” each time it compiled a new program, and my father was never able to remove it!

Let’s talk about your background. How did you end up in your career path? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

My parent’s support was the driving factor behind my career path. I was very lucky to have parents who were able to pay for my education, who knew how important it was and who supported me with my choices. I was also raised by parents who taught me that I could take the same place in this world as a man.

Thankfully, I didn’t have many obstacles throughout my career and I had enough confidence to overcome the ones in my path. That said, I did face some challenges due to my gender, which many women have unfortunately experienced. I had recruiters that asked if I wanted a family and I experienced harassment from a manager. All these challenges helped me to become the strong woman that I am today.

     
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Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

I was very lucky to have the relentless support of my friends and family. They always made me feel like I could move mountains. When you have this kind of confidence instilled in you, it’s easier to tackle challenges.

I didn’t really have a role model for myself when I was younger. This wasn’t an issue for me since it eliminated any potentially discouraging comparisons. Looking back, I wish it was more common for women to pursue careers in technology so I could have had seen a clearer path to success.

So, as my teenage daughter understands it, I’m a Postgres influencer!

Did anyone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

While I’ve heard more than my fair share of discouraging comments, no one has ever tried to get in the way of my education or advancing my career. In fact, one of my favorite things about this industry is the constant need to learn and adapt to a shifting marketplace.

A day in Lætitia’s life

I’m a Field Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at EDB. However, I’m not the kind of CTO who hires other people or buys software.

Instead, my job is to provide customer education around PostgreSQL, explaining the best practices and different ways to manage the open-source database management system through mediums like blogs and whitepapers, and videos. So, as my teenage daughter understands it, I’m a Postgres influencer!

As a working mom, my typical day is punctuated by my youngest’s school hours. My alarm clock rings around 7 a.m. CET. I snooze it and wake up around 7:30 a.m. and then I have to wake up my 7-year-old. Once I get my daughter off to school, I hop online and catch up on any technical work that needs to be done ahead of my American colleagues getting online for the day. I then have a quick lunch around 12:30 p.m., followed by an hour for “tech study” between 1 and 2 p.m.

My afternoons tend to be jam-packed with meetings because it’s the only time I can connect with my American colleagues. Before I know it, it’s 4:30 p.m. and I have to fetch my 7-year-old from school.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m most proud of being recognized as an official Postgres contributor. At the time, I was one of only three women in the official Postgres contributors list. I now have made it my mission to help increase that number by co-founding the Postgres Women Group, a non-profit organization created to encourage and support women to become active members of the PostgreSQL community and foster recognition of their contribution to PostgreSQL development.

I am constantly working towards my goal of getting more women speaking at conferences, contributing code, and mentoring one another. My ultimate goal is to increase the diversity of the Postgres community by working closely with Postgres user conferences across Europe to raise the attendance of female engineers and developers at events.

Why aren’t there more women in tech? What’s your take on that?

The lack of women in technology is a complex issue. There are several reasons that lead women in technology roles to quit and discourage others from applying. With many technology companies and departments being male-dominated for so long, most have adopted a boys’ club mentality by default. This kind of workplace culture is one that completely disregards women. It can be ostracizing and ultimately, it pushes great women out of these roles.

Thankfully, in my current role at EDB, I have experienced a very inclusive culture. The open and collaborative nature of the company allows women to have a voice and make an impact.

However, I have found that for every discouraging person I come across, there are two encouraging people that have made it a priority to support me in my journey.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

As I noted, I was fortunate enough to have a very devoted family that supported me throughout my career. Some women do not have the support of their family and they lack workplace mentors. As women in the technology field, it is our job to mentor other women and look for ways to support their career development.

How would our world be different if more women worked in STEM? What would be the (social, economic, and cultural) impact?

More women in STEM would improve many aspects of our world. The more women in STEM, the more women young girls have to look up to and lean on. This would translate into more women seeking careers in technology, and hopefully a bigger spotlight on the gender pay disparity.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current discussion?

It’s a long fight, so I don’t think I will live to see the end of it! The change required to help women break through the glass ceiling in technology will take decades of intentional work supported by government regulation. For now, I try to find solace focusing on the progress we have made in my lifetime.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career? What should they know about this industry?

My advice to women pursuing a career in technology is to understand that unfortunately, the world is still a sexist place. However, I truly believe that this isn’t solely a problem with the technology industry. The gender disparities exist across many industries. However, I have found that for every discouraging person I come across, there are two encouraging people that have made it a priority to support me in my journey.

Sadly, many companies don’t take sexism seriously enough. So, if you get a bad feeling during the hiring process, trust your gut. If sexism is making your job difficult, slowing your progression, or preventing you from enjoying work, quit. In IT, it’s not difficult to find a new job – and there are lots of wonderful places for women to work.

Remember this: It’s possible for any woman with grit and passion to succeed in technology.

More Women in Tech:

For even more Women in Tech, click here

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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