One year ago, almost to the day, we were visited by three student clubs at the studio: POWE, Les Ingénieuses and Poly-Fi.
- Around for just over three decades, McGill University’s POWE (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering) is on a mission to promote gender diversity in the field of engineering and to support future engineers.
- Founded in 2009, École de technologie supérieure (ETS)’s Les Ingénieuses seeks to create and facilitate a network to foster the integration of women in engineering.
- Four years into their existence, Polytechnique’s Poly-Fi aims to deconstruct the misconceptions surrounding engineering and show the world that engineering is an accessible field of study for anyone wanting to discover it.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we invited six women from these three clubs to the studio to learn about their involvement as committee members in their organizations and their experience in engineering.
Meet Kenza, Frédérike, Meredith, Éloïse, Diana, and Julia
From ETS’s Les Ingénieuses
ETS Software Engineering student Kenza Zniber joined Les Ingénieuses to be more involved in her school and give her time to support the engineering community. As VP Social, Kenza plans activities to foster communication.
The opportunity to meet people with shared values, especially that of helping women integrate into engineering, drove ETS Information Technologies student Frédérike Fortin to be a part of Les Ingénieuses. As Executive VP, Frédérike manages recruitment, plans events, manages budgets, develops partnerships, and makes sure things are running smoothly.
From McGill’s POWE
McGill Electrical Engineering student Julia London is POWE’s VP Sponsorship. In her role, she communicates with companies to create partnerships and get the sponsorship necessary to make POWE’s events possible.
McGill Software Engineering student Diana Serra is POWE’s Co-President. As such, she guides the direction POWE takes during the academic year.
From Polytechnique’s Poly-Fi
As Poly-Fi co-founders, Mechanical Engineering Polytechnique graduates Meredith Alousi-Jones and Éloïse Edom spoke about why they started their club.
Éloïse was motivated to promote women in engineering. A previously established committee had sadly shut down, but Éloïse wanted to keep its mission alive and adapt it to today’s realities.
Meredith was driven to make the process of integrating into engineering smoother. She saw starting an organization as an opportunity to create a safe space, and to grow personally and professionally.
Though they occupy different roles at different universities, these six ambitious women agreed that their organizations are a place where they can gain confidence and develop their communication, management, and interpersonal skills.
Making an impact
The three organizations, POWE, Les Ingénieuses, and Poly-Fi, offer meaningful initiatives – from workshops to industry tours, mentorship programs, and conferences.
When asked about their favourite initiative, both Julia and Diana said it’s undoubtedly the POWE Conference for Future Women in Engineering, an event for high school girls to discover STEM. A rewarding experience, the conference inspires and encourages young women to dig deeper into the world of engineering.
Frédérike has two favourite events: the start-of-the-schoolyear 5 à 7 and the engineering panel. A way to kick off the beginning the Fall semester, the annual 5 à 7 is an opportunity to give new female students a warm welcome and introduce them to Les Ingénieuses and all the club has to offer. At the women in engineering panel, a diverse group of female engineers with different backgrounds and personalities share their experience in the field. It’s an inspiring learning experience close to Fred’s heart.
For Kenza, two events also came to mind: Les Ingénieuses’s 11th-anniversary gala and the Vox Pop. Recently held, the gala was an opportunity for her to get to know the organization’s members and learn about their initiatives and how they’re organized. The first event lead by Kenza, the Vox Pop, brought together men and women and showcased that integrating into engineering isn’t solely a women’s mission; men can join the cause, too.
Similarly to Fred and Kenza, Éloïse has a couple of favourite events: Poly-Fi’s annual wine and cheese and the cognitive bias panel. As one of the main organizers of the wine and cheese, Éloïse finds the event to be an excellent opportunity to foster relationships and recognize the club’s partnerships. “It’s encouraging to see such a great turnout,” she told us. The cognitive bias panel was a one-time event that proved to be very memorable. With Polytechnique teachers and students on the panel, attendees learned ways to be aware of their own unconscious biases and how to make intentional efforts towards being more inclusive.
Like Éloïse, Meredith’s favourite event is Poly-Fi’s annual wine and cheese. “The four to five months of planning and hard work is well worth it,” she said. “It’s a great networking event; always a hit.”
Finding their spark
After hearing about their experiences within their organizations, we wanted to take a step back to uncover what prompted each of these six women to pursue engineering in the first place.
Diana’s passion for engineering was ignited in high school. In secondary five, she discovered the fun of coding in her computer science class, and the challenge of science in her physics course. Those sentiments combined with the encouragement of a teacher solidified her decision to study engineering.
Julia had an appreciation for engineering while growing up. Her father, a technology salesperson, would often tell her about the admiration he had for his fellow salespeople with an engineering background. And after attending POWE’s annual conference as a teen in 2013, Julia felt that engineering truly was a path she wanted to pursue.
Meredith always had an interest in things that moved. She was a well-known led pencil repairperson in her childhood. With the support of her father, a physicist, to follow her interests, Meredith made the choice to pursue mechanical engineering.
Much like Meredith, Éloïse liked working with things that move, but her path toward mechanical engineering wasn’t clear cut. Originally wanting to become a pilot, Éloïse attended flight school. Realizing that being a pilot wasn’t for her, she took stock of her interests, and the rest is history.
For Frédérike, her spark stems back to elementary school. In grade three, Fred was learning PowerPoint and quickly became a pro. Her fascination for creating presentations and playing around with features lead her to uncover her computer’s possibilities. The next logical step was learning how technologies work.
Kenza found engineering through the positive influence of others. In high school, Kenza’s math tutor noticed her talents and told her she could be skilled in information technologies. History repeated itself in CEGEP when a teacher told her the same thing. Despite the encouraging advice of her high school tutor and CEGEP teacher, Kenza originally studied occupational therapy in university. However, she felt that the pragmatic, Cartesian side of her wasn’t fulfilled, so towards engineering, she went.
Though these women currently feel that they’ve found their place in engineering, they agreed that it wasn’t always the case.
Some (inevitable) self-doubt crept in along the way.
For example, while struggling to find her footing early on in her degree, Julia applied to transfer out of engineering and into science. With her transfer approved, Julia had five weeks to confirm her choice. During that time, she found out that she wasn’t the only person in the program not feeling self-assured.
“You can give up or keep going,” Julia told us. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.” So, she decided to stay.
That grit, drive, and motivation proved to be shared qualities for our six guests. Diana also adds:
If you’re interested in engineering, go for it. If you’re thinking you probably can, you actually can. Listen to that voice inside yourself. Engineering doesn’t close any doors; it only opens them.”
Keep it up
Thank you, Julia, Diana, Frédérike, Kenza, Éloïse, and Meredith for sharing your experiences and insights with us.
The culture of help and support you’re establishing is incredible. And Ubisoft is proud to support it – and you.
As Éloïse so eloquently stated during our conversation, “We’re capable of so much more when we work together.”
Want to know more about these three organizations, their missions, and members? Visit their websites:
To learn more about our initiatives to prepare the next generation of technology professionals, visit Ubisoft Education.