We are back with a new "Women in tech" article! This month, we will discuss the situation of French women who work in the tech industry. On this occasion, we have interviewed our Toulousian Ambassadress Catherine Valmalette. In this article, she tells us about her experience as an online merchant and explains why women are underrepresented in this sector.
Hello Catherine. Can you share a little bit about yourself?
Hello, my name is Catherine Valmalette. I am an e-merchant and a web-marketer. I run the Eurojadis company with my associate, Christian. Our company consists of / includes several e-shops. We sell a wide variety of products from slippers to KD's sunglasses, world maps and designer faucets. We are the biggest distributor of the KD’s brand in France and Europe. We also have a main shop called Cachalo, where you can find most of the products we sell.
How did you get to know PrestaShop? What makes you appreciate it?
I discovered PrestaShop in 2014, when Christian and I were looking for a solution to create our online stores. A developer recommended PrestaShop to us and we took his advice. PrestaShop is very well translated into many languages unlike other e-commerce software. This makes it easier for every e-merchant to learn how to use it.
What do you like most about being an Ambassadress?
What I like most about being an Ambassadress is meeting people from my local PrestaShop community and sharing my experience with them.
What got you interested in e-commerce? What influenced you to pursue a career in this field?
Back in 2014, I wanted to change jobs and to work in the digital industry. Christian worked as an antique dealer for more than 40 years and I used to be a teacher. I have taught a wide range of subjects, including literature. Thus, we decided to combine our knowledge and skills to launch our online stores. I am in charge of the editorial maintenance of our e-shops. I write SEO-friendly content and I also create all the product sheets.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I am proud of all my accomplishments. I am a very dynamic person who has undertaken many different projects. I get bored very easily and I never rest on my laurels! However, when it comes to my career as an e-merchant, I would say that my greatest achievements are my Cachalo and Germaine Guérin stores.
In your opinion, why aren’t there more women in e-commerce ?
There is a common misconception that men are better at running a business than women. Indeed, Judeo-Christian values are entrenched in French society and women are still being treated as unequal to men. Moreover, running an online store requires a lot of time. However, as a former teacher, I can attest that women are traditionally the ones who are taking care of the children. A working woman who is raising her children cannot find the time to start and run an online business. Moreover, the vast majority of e-merchants also sell their products or services on a marketplace, which means that we are constantly in demand, even on weekends.
How is the situation of women working in the tech industry in France? How much do you think the industry has changed since you joined?
Even though women are still underrepresented in the tech industry, I think that the situation tends to improve over time. An increasing number of young women are giving up on working in the manufacturing sector to work in the digital sector. We are slowly making a place for ourselves in this industry.
Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in e-commerce are facing?
Business women in the world of e-commerce are not taken seriously and not listened to, unless they hold a well-established position. I also think that we are not doing enough to empower women with educational opportunities to enhance their businesses. In general, women are not encouraged to pursue careers in the digital industry. Moreover, the few women who manage to break into the industry have trouble accessing senior positions. All these factors explain why there is a lack of women entering the tech industry or starting an online business.
Why do you think it is important for more women to join the tech industry?
In my opinion, men and women are complementary. We have different ideas, we reason differently and we also plan things differently. Diversity of thought is the key ingredient for better business. The tech industry cannot make great progress without women’s contributions. I also think that women tend to have better communication, negotiation and conflict resolution skills than their male counterparts. Contrary to popular belief, running an online store is not just about having strong computer skills : these soft skills are also a must-have if you want to take your business to the next level.
Which woman in tech inspires you the most?
Unfortunately, I do not know enough women who work in tech or e-commerce to have a role model to look up to.
What advice or tips would you give to a woman who wants to pursue a career in e-commerce ?
Take a piece of paper, draft a plan and clearly define what you want to do. Once you have done that, you can make your move. You should also work on your self-confidence : you are the boss! Being an e-merchant requires a great number of skills. Before starting your business, you should consider educating yourself on SEO, price-fixing and logistics. It is essential to learn about these topics to make your business flourish.
One last word?
I like the fact that PrestaShop offers people the opportunity to carry out their projects, no matter where they are from. You do not need to have any specific computer science skills to run your e-store once it is settled down.
Thank you Catherine for answering our questions ;)