I had the opportunity to attend the Conference on Diversity in Engineering held in Montreal. The event took place from the 18th to the 20th of November, but I was there only on the 19th! It is my experience on Saturday that I’ll write about in this article!
I was only there on the 19th because the ticket was provided to my student club Les Ingénieuses. We decided to give as many members as possible the chance to attend the conference, so we exchanged the ticket.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
From 8 am to 9 am, the day began with a presentation by Vanessa Cherenfant. She gave a really interesting presentation about diversity in engineering (of course). She told us about her career since her graduation from École Polytechnique. Haitian and woman in technology, she leads a double fight. She also founded the Polycultures Student Club in 2005 at her university to promote diversity in culture. The club still exists today, 12 years later!
At 9 am, I went to a workshop about Anti-Oppression. One sentence that has marked me is “you are worth so much more than your productivity”. Because I think it is so true. We are always stressed to be productive and compare ourselves to others. We shouldn’t!
Also, the speaker made us reflect on a situation of oppression that happened to us and then prompted us to identify the number of discrimination that was hiding behind this event. She then talked about intersectionality. This means that sexism, racism or homophobia cannot be studied separately. They cannot be fully explained alone. For example, a black woman must face the fact of being a woman in a world of men, but also that she is black. Both are hand in hand and cannot be separated.
One negative point of the lectures was that some rooms were small and made up in length. Also, the corridor to get between each conference room was very narrow. As I almost always arrived late due to various reasons (like networking!), I found myself sitting in the back of the room. Not seeing anything on the PowerPoint, and having a column in front of me, preventing me from making eye contact with the person giving the lecture. A little disappointing!
The view from the building where was held the conference!
All in all, I had a great day. It was really nice to meet future engineers from across Canada! We were able to exchange and get to know each other. I am very pleased that my university allowed us to participate in such an important event. We had to be there!
I found it very interesting that the University of Victoria organized friendly soccer games weekly so that the different promotions can get to know each other better by playing together! A great way for all students to feel good in their academic environment and with their peers.