2 August 2023 · 2 min read
5 ways we can harness inclusion to unlock a vibrant European semiconductor sector
In this first episode of a series of interviews with experts in the field of semiconductors and engineering, we sat down with Françoise Chombar, co-founder of MELEXIS in 1988 and CEO from 2004 onwards.
Ms. Chombar, who authored the article The Surprisingly Simple Reason Why I Want More Women in STEM in 2015, is a self-proclaimed STEMinist and views inclusion as a key element for the evolution of the semiconductor industry in Europe.
“Europe cannot win this battle with just half of the talent pool.”
The battle in question is the European Union’s objective of reaching a 20% share in the global production of semiconductors by 2030, doubling its current share of 10%. Though remaining relevant in the global technology war is a significant challenge, Ms. Chombar believes that the pathway for Europe relies on:
“[...] strengths we already have: we should really not copy what other continents are already excellent at. Let’s identify those topics of excellence where Europe is ahead of the pack, and with that we can generate interdependencies which will keep our continent relevant.”
In a context where talent shortage is among the most pressing issues facing the continent, inclusion and gender equality is essential. As Ms. Chombar puts it,
“Europe is a champion of inclusion. So let’s take that strength and build on it.”
Drawing on her direct experience as a woman CEO in the semiconductor industry, as well as the many lessons learned during her work in promoting gender equality in STEM through involvement in organizations including Women on Board and SOFIA Academy, she outlines five key actions to reduce gender imbalance in STEM and help Europe reach its targets by attracting more women into the field:
- Addressing unconscious biases in teachers: At all levels of schooling, exposure to math and science teachers (whether they be male or female) with pro-boy biases significantly decreases girls’ future likelihood of pursuing a degree in STEM;
- Showcasing female role models: Exposure to women with successful professional and personal experiences in STEM increases girls’ confidence and enjoyment of those subjects;
- Fostering inclusive leadership: Implementing thoughtful mechanisms of diversity and inclusion to combat the many implicit (or explicit) instances of sexism in the corporate world;
- Enhancing context interdisciplinary STEM literacy: Connecting STEM disciplines to real-life applications and challenges facing the world to increase young people (but especially young women’s) interest in the fields,
- Investing into diverse STEM talent: Rethinking public financing schemes to provide up-skilling and re-skilling to women in the field, connecting public and private institutions to further D&I objectives.
Ms. Chombar further stresses the fundamental importance of STEM, particularly of the semiconductor industry, due to its strong connection to innovation and problem-solving, contributing to an inclusive world that can be designed to work for everyone. In closure, on the topic of why the young generation should be interested in joining, she stated:
“It’s a fascinating industry to be in, it’s helping the world, and I think that everybody should know much more about it.”