Morgane Barthod: Founder of meteo*swift
The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Morgane Berthod to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.
#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?
Morgane Berthod: We work to make the energy transition possible by forecasting the energy production of wind farms and solar panels, using AI on weather and industrial data. Accurate forecasts are necessary to secure the balance of the electrical grid, and therefore to integrate large quantities of renewables into the energy mix.
#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?
MB: When we started outperforming our competitors was the gamechanger in such a technical field.
#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?
MB: At first, I found it quite hard to dare asking for help and feel legitimate to ask questions all the time, which was clearly necessary!
We started working on our innovation two years before the law made it possible to use it, so we could not know if our work was not good or if it was just too early. Furthermore, as energy is an industrial field with big companies, it takes times to make deals.
#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?
MB: Being part of the energy transition and using artificial intelligence to make change happen. It was great for my team and me when we really started operating our forecasts and saw that it was making a difference for our users and the wind farms.
Besides, I started immediately after graduating, so I still must ask for help from experienced people. It’s not comfortable, but I learn very fast, which is very rewarding!
#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?
MB: I’m not someone who has always been dreaming to be an entrepreneur. I created my company without fully realizing what it meant, and I think if I had known I would not have dared. I could not be happier that I did, so I encourage young women to overcome the belief that it’s too hard for them.
I felt quite tense about this interview because I felt I did not deserve to be part of #sheinnovates and to give such big advice to others. But maybe it’s part of what it is to be a woman in tech: being surrounded by people not looking like us makes us believe we are not at our place, not legitimate. It helps to know where this feeling comes from and to remember it’s okay to ask for help and not know.
I would advise to not underestimate the structural barriers/existing discriminations. In the fundraising process, studies show that women get mainly “negative” questions while men get mainly “positive” ones. Reading that is frustrating, but knowing it makes us able to prepare and, during the interview, fight to make space for the answers that a man would have the opportunity to give. We don’t like to think there are still active barriers and we don’t feel that they apply to us, but it helps to see them. I recommend the work of Marie Dasylva (Nkali agency, France), who does great work to help women of color in the workplace and shares helpful advice.
Finally, networking is important, both in your field and with women who might be facing the same challenges. Recently in France, we saw how strong the cooptation and the exclusion of women and minorities are in the journalistic field. As a woman, we are not spontaneously included, so it is even more important to fight to enter.
#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?
MB: It’s about justice; if they do not represent half of the field, it means something is actively preventing them from entering. It’s also a huge waste of innovation. Last year I was feeling low for a few months, had been doing too much by myself and not asking enough for help because I did not feel legitimate. This feeling of lack of legitimacy is the reason we need more representation in tech. When seeking help, I was told by the doctor I went to that the problem was me doing a masculine job and oppressing my feminine side. Some teachers also told me I should not get into engineering as a girl. I would like to see more women in innovation so that it is not considered abnormal anymore.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.