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Thu Dec 14, 2017, 02:52 PM

28 Years After The Montreal Massacre, Sexism Remains Deadly

28 Years After The Montreal Massacre, Sexism Remains Deadly

While women have made leaps and bounds in the workforce since the Montreal Massacre, the spectrum of sexism remains pervasive


Each year since I can remember, I shed tears on December 6. In Canada, it's a national day of remembrance for the worst mass shooting in our history. When it was over, the horror of the tragedy at the hands of Marc Lépine at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 would leave 14 young women dead. Since that horrible night, an effort to understand his motive has guided the discourse around Violence Against Women — his motivations informed books, articles and television shows. But it was never his motivations that I wanted to understand, it was theirs: those 14 young women. Of the 14, 12 were engineering students at Canada's pre-eminent engineering school. At a time when only 12 per cent of engineering students were women, they weren't just brilliant: they were brave. They were set to enter a male-dominant world for what I assume to be a love of engineering.


Every year as I mourn these women, I wish I could talk to them about their motivations and feelings regarding their career choice, because my admiration for women who are leaders in spaces that are often hostile environments is beyond articulation. When I think of that night, I think of how Canada didn't only lose 14 of her daughters; we lost 14 of our leaders.

Just a few months ago, a male chemical engineer confidently told me that men are smarter than women, and are "just better at certain jobs." This was said to me, the CEO of G(irls)20, an organization specifically designed to support women's advancement in their careers through leadership opportunities, global experiences and mentorship. If that was said to my face, what did he say about women behind our backs? And more importantly, how does he treat women in his work space?

We know that the work space remains one of intimidation, silent complacency and even danger for women.

. . . .


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