“As a feminist, I am proud to contribute to change conservative ideas.”
- Name: Fran Audenaert
- Age: 31
- Studies: Bachelor Industrial Engineering (UGent), Master Civil Engineering option Mechanical Engineering (UGent)
- Function: Sales Branch Manager
- Hobbies: watching films, hiking, horse riding and occasionally driving on circuit.
The 31-year-old Fran Audenaert works as Sales Branch Manager at Actemium. She is mainly responsible for robot installations and is the central point of contact for both regular and new customers.
Why did you choose VINCI Energies Belgium?
Fran: The first thing I noticed is the enormous amount of freedom you got at VINCI Energies Belgium. I am free to be myself as well to make job-related choices. After I was hired, I was given the choice of what I wanted to do on the job according to my interests. If you work hard and show commitment, a lot of freedom comes with the job and I would never have found this in other work environments.
Have you ever had to deal with prejudice in the workplace?
Fran: Yes, at trade fairs people sometimes assume that you are there only to help operating or that you are from the HR department. It takes a while for them to realise that you can talk in technical terms. If I talk to the customer together with my male colleague, the attention usually goes to him. They think he has more knowledge of the technical aspects. I sometimes have to prove myself harder than my male colleague in that context. However, I think it is great that I can have an impact on the traditional perceptions of female role patterns. I think I have been able to show many men that women can also be technically minded.
Do women and men have equal chances?
Fran: No, we really get the same opportunities here. I have the feeling that I am enormously respected and always taken seriously here. That has nothing to do with whether or not I am a woman. My predecessor broke down barriers and opened the eyes of her colleagues. Since then, more steps have been taken to recruit more women, and today I see many more women working at VINCI Energies Belgium than a few years ago. This is a very nice evolution.
Have you ever hesitated to choose this technical job?
Fran: I found it challenging to know that I would be a kind of unique person in my job. I was attracted to the fact that I would stand out in my job and could make a difference. I was not afraid to be the odd one out and to do something different from what society expects from women in the first place. This aspect encouraged me to enter the technical sector and to set an example for other women. I am quite a feminist and therefore very proud to contribute to change a conservative mindset.