Success stories

Leading women in ICT: Marie-Adélaïde Leclercq-Olhagaray

Marie-Adélaïde Leclercq-Olhagaray: chairwoman and co-founderWomen in Digital Empowerment (WIDE) Photo: Arendt & Medernach

Marie-Adélaïde Leclercq-Olhagaray: chairwoman and co-founderWomen in Digital Empowerment (WIDE) Photo: Arendt & Medernach

In Delano’s July supplement, we put the spotlight on four women making waves in the ICT sector. Marie-Adélaïde Leclercq-Olhagaray, chairwoman and co-founderWomen in Digital Empowerment (WIDE), explains that our worldview is shaped by products we consume and women’s participation in tech is critical.

What inspired the idea of WIDE?

Multiple observations inspired the idea. First, a good understanding of how technology is now essential in any profession. Also, an alarming under-representation of girls in STEM courses and of women in general in jobs in related sectors, and the need to put the subject at the heart of the debates. WIDE was born in 2013 when the subject, although very real, had not yet become fashionable as it is today.

You are the Marketing and Communications Director of Arendt & Medernach, but also a strong advocate for women in ICT as co-founder and president of WIDE (Women in Digital Empowerment) in Luxembourg. Why is the topic of women in the digital space and Stem skills important to you?

It matters to me because it impacts us all. Our view of the world is influenced by the products we consume, and if they are only thought of by men, then our view is biased and not inclusive. For example, women represent 51% of the people playing video games in France in 2021, but they remain a very small minority in their design and development. This distorts our reality. Personally, I had to educate myself late in life on these subjects (I am a literary scholar and geographer by training) and they are now essential in my job as a communicator. At every stage, it is essential to keep learning.

What are WIDE's greatest achievements over the past two years?

WIDE is proud to help several hundred women each year to open up or train, and Covid has not slowed down our activity. Our programme is dense but agile, and we have for example just tackled generative art, NFT, crypto, and a specific programme is underway with Esch 2022. The most significant event for WIDE this year is the creation of its social enterprise. We are indeed very much in demand to support companies and this structure allows us to respond with new training services.

What needs to be done to create a greater number of female talents in the field of information technology (ICT) in Luxembourg?

Invest in the digital education of young people and open the doors to these studies to more young girls who do not dare to engage in them (stereotypes are very hard to break). This is the only sustainable approach. This approach will only work if it is generalised in Europe, which is why we are working with the European Commission via Erasmus+.

Key facts about Leclercq-Olhagaray and WIDE

Year of creation of WIDE: 2013

No. of Beneficiaries in Luxembourg: Several hundred each year

A prestigious award: Top 100 Digital Champions in Europe by the Financial Times

Next big ICT event: "Creative residency" with the US embassy from 7 June - open to women wishing to develop projects around art and tech.