Here in Canada, today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, in remembrance of the Montreal Massacre.
24 years ago, a madman went on a mass-shooting at the École Polytechnique of Montreal. He killed fourteen female engineering students whose only “crime” was being a woman. A woman who wanted to learn engineering.
His suicide letter and eyewitness accounts indicate he was motivated to kill these women for being feminists.
24 years ago, being a woman engineering student was an act of social change so radical – so role-incongruent – that a madman like Lépine considered it punishable by death. Being a woman in engineering was an act so radical, so role-incongruent, that it was (and is) inherently feminist.
And as comforting as it may feel that the Montreal Massacre is history – or simply the act of a madman – women in engineering continue to face a much more aggressive sexism than we see in the other sciences. 69% of female engineers have experienced sexual harassment on the job. We still have a long way to go.