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picto Press release - 14/03/2022

Sea Tech Week® 2022: Focus on Women in Science

For over 20 years, Sea Tech Week® has been attracting a thousand people to Brest every two years. Participants come from within France and beyond to explore a major maritime theme. Organised by Campus mondial de la mer, the 13th iteration will run from 26 to 30 September this year, with India as featured country. The theme is ‘Maritime transport, towards smarter & greener solutions’, with a particular focus on the role women play in marine science and technology.

We spoke to two experts who are associated with Sea Tech Week® and passionate about their work. Neither woman has pursued a ‘conventional’ career path.

Be brave and tenacious

Lise Detrimont, Executive Director for the Wind Ship Association, is unswervingly committed to her role representing this NGO. Brittany region is a partner in the Association, which was established in 2019. It aims to accelerate environmental transition in the maritime sector by using wind to propel ships. Lise herself is a huge watersports fan who gained a degree in agronomy, then worked on the environmental and social impact of human activities for some 20 years internationally, before going back to university in France to obtain a two-year Masters in maritime law. “Having spent years on technical subject matter, I was keen to explore this sector linked to my love of the ocean. That’s why I chose to base my law dissertation ‘Maritime transport and atmospheric pollution’ on the issue of decarbonisation”. 

Then Lise came across some pioneers in wind propulsion and suggested that they create a legal structure to underpin their endeavours: the Wind Ship Association. The Association will attend its first Sea Tech Week® this year. “We will organise and facilitate a day during the event devoted to the potential uses of green energy in shipping. We support these environmentally friendly solutions, working with Brittany’s regional innovation and economic development agency Bretagne Développement Innovation and our network in the IWSA (International Wind Ship Association)”. Lise is very pleased that Sea Tech Week® 2022 will focus on women in science: “I’ve worked in companies with 500 employees where it was hard to make my voice heard as a woman who did not openly declare her ambition. It’s still possible to succeed there, but it takes bravery and tenacity, there are obstacles to overcome and you can’t necessarily expect any feedback.”

Show you’re keen, have an enquiring mind

Marie-Josée Vairon, Head of Thales’ Brest site, specialises in the design, development and integration of mission systems, electronic warfare systems, and sonar systems for anti-submarine and maritime mine countermeasures. As a member of the Campus mondial de la mer Executive Committee, she is helping to organise Sea Tech Week®. Having earned her technical university diploma in mechanical engineering, Marie-Josée began her long career with the Thales group in its Space design office in Cannes: “Luckily, I met a manager who was sure I had potential. He suggested I broaden my qualifications to include an engineering degree, so I studied process industries at CESI Graduate School of Engineering in Lyon”. Once she was back in the aerospace sector, Marie-Josée gained a great deal of experience, notably in a quality assurance team then at an industry competence centre. She then assisted the director of a newly-created department focusing on observation satellites.

“After several years in the space sector in Cannes, I was keen to explore one of Thales’ other specialist areas, and told colleagues I was interested in defence. They offered me the chance to head up the DMS (Defence Mission System) site in Brest – this meant a real leap into the unknown but I accepted immediately”. Having spent all her career within the same group, Marie-Josée is glad the management has been broadly open to diversity. She feels this has been really beneficial: “As I’ve experienced many times myself, studies show that more diverse groups have a greater variety of approaches to technical or business decisions, are more constructive and reactive to risks, and are more engaged in taking and supporting decisions.” When she looks back on her career, she believes: “Being a woman has never held me back from pursuing my career. Of course I’ve had to work hard and prove I was capable, but these seeds have always fallen on fertile ground. I think the important thing is to show you’re keen and have an enquiring mind.”

Sea Tech Week® website: www.seatechweek.eu

@SeaTechWeek / #SeaTech2022

About Sea Tech Week®
Sea Tech Week® is an international event dedicated to marine and maritime science and technology. It attracts over a thousand top international experts to Brest, France, every two years, representing a wide variety of ocean-related disciplines. Sea Tech Week® is a conference including science and technology talks, a professional trade fair, B2B meetings, company and laboratory tours and a gala evening.

This event provides scientists, companies, clusters, students and others the opportunity to share progress in research and innovation, forge a professional network of contacts and improve partnerships and cooperation.

Sea Tech Week® is organised by Technopôle Brest-Iroise through Campus mondial de la mer, France’s premier community of experts in studying and working with the ocean, located at the tip of Brittany. This event is supported by Brest métropole, Brittany Region and the European Union (ERDF).