Today on the 30th anniversary of the l’École Polytechnique de Montréal massacre and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, we commemorate the lives of the 14 women that were lost in this senseless act of gender-based violence. As we reflect on this tragedy, it is important that we remember the countless women, girls, members of LGBTQ2+ communities, persons of colour, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples, amongst others, who continue to face violence, discrimination and harassment today.
This anniversary also comes as a part of the The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign that brings together partners around the world to reflect on what each one of us can each do in our own communities and in our own lives to eliminate the disproportionate violence faced by women, girls and LGBTQ2 individuals.
As an organization that has a focus on the equitable, diverse, and inclusive future of engineering, OSPE believes that the engineering and STEM professions stand to benefit significantly from embracing diversity and championing inclusion. We see many engineering trailblazers, industry leaders, academics, and advocates standing up for this cause and taking significant steps towards making this a reality. Through our role as a convener, we encourage difficult dialogue, share best practices, and push to move the needle on this important issue.
“The 30th anniversary of this horrible act provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how women are experiencing the STEAM sector today. Recently, I took part in OSPE’s EDI Imperative Forum. It was there that I watched a young student ask a panel what to do when facing a ‘lack of empathy, different treatment or being hit on by men’ in the workplace. The student was visibly discouraged and negatively impacted by the treatment she had received within her new profession.
To that girl, I would like to say don’t be afraid to speak up. If you feel like someone crossed the line, then be the advocate for change by not letting them get away with it the next time. To employers, you have a significant role to play in creating safer workplaces for women. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend the DiversifySTEM app that was developed by OSPE. This free app provides 5-minute actionable micro-lessons on various topics related to diversity and inclusion. Go through a lesson at your next team meeting, start having those difficult conversations, and embrace change.” – Angela Wojtyla, P.Eng., Board Director, and Chair of OSPE’s Women in Engineering Advocacy Champions Task Force (WE ACT).
“Today marks 30 years since the senseless tragedy that ended the lives of 14 promising young women. Although, I can confidently say that we have made significant progress, it is important to note more must be done to achieve an inclusive and equitable society.
In the STEM professions, one in two women feel disrespected by managers, co-workers, and/or clients, while one in four women experience discrimination and face harassment or bullying. There was no place for this 30 years ago and there is absolutely no place for this today.
We all have a role to play in ensuring that women are valued and respected for the contributions they have and continue to make to the STEM sector. We must ensure that at every step of an individual’s career path we are offering the right supports and fostering the right culture. It is all of our collective responsibility to challenge gender stereotyping, to speak up for those that are silenced, and to constantly and intentionally champion women and other underrepresented groups within our professions. Lastly, I want to encourage men to listen to, to mentor, and to sponsor the women in their organizations and remember that our actions matter.” – Dr. Tibor Turi, Ph.D., P.Eng., President and Chair, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers