My career path
"Many people have supported me along the way – you don’t build your career by yourself. Various people believed in me and offered me positions, projects and other assignments."
I’m a design engineer specialized in the human and social aspects of product design. I’m a professor of engineering-applied human and social sciences and in charge of a research team and the university’s courses in ergonomic conception and design, which are taught as part of the industrial design engineering programme.
I’ve always thought that the world of science and technology didn’t really understand or integrate the human aspects of design – that is, our depth, our flesh and blood, our emotions, our individual and collective memory, our social sharing and our environment. Together with my team, I’m trying to take account of these aspects. I like it when my students’ eyes sparkle because they’ve realised that it is possible to see things differently.
My career path. I studied mechanics at the University of Poitiers, France, where I was one of only three women in the lecture hall. I then became one of the first master’s students in product design and innovation at the Arts et Métiers ParisTech engineering and research graduate school, and specialized in design ergonomics and sensory design.
After doing my PhD in the laboratory of contemporary ethnology at Paris VII, I became an associate professor at the University of Santiago, Chile. Many people have supported me along the way – you don’t build your career by yourself. Various people believed in me and offered me positions, projects and other assignments. Other people have supported me in my family life by understanding my commitment to my job.
A downside or obstacle ? I wish there was more support for applied research projects that combine engineering and the social and human sciences. Treating these disciplines separately can really hold back technological progress. The second downside is the lack of female students in engineering, and particularly design. Society doesn’t consider technological sciences to be a female domain, and there aren’t enough of us. Yet I think women bring a different perspective when it comes to techniques and technology – a perspective that our society really needs.
I’m proud that, throughout the 20 years of my career, I’ve been able to get hundreds of professionals – and particularly budding engineers – to engage with these issues. After all, they are the ones who will build tomorrow’s society. I’m also proud of my team and the fact that our research projects have been successful, and that we’ve managed to transfer knowledge to industry.