A month to reaffirm equality

Award­ed the prize as the most active school in 2023 at the 13th edi­tion of Les Ingénieuses for organ­is­ing its first Equal­i­ty Month, UTC repeat­ed the event from March 14 to April 15. This pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to remind every­one of the progress that has been made, but also the progress that still needs to be made, in terms of dis­crim­i­na­tion, gen­der equal­i­ty and the fight against sex­u­al and gen­der-based violence.

Stereo­types still die hard when it comes to gen­der equal­i­ty. The Month of Equal­i­ty at UTC high­lights the university’s strong com­mit­ments here, and was reward­ed with the prize for the most ‘mobilised’ school in the CDEFI’s Les Ingénieuses com­pe­ti­tion (Con­fer­ence of Direc­tors of French Engi­neer­ing Schools) in 2023. This Equal­i­ty Aware­ness project, ini­ti­at­ed by Marie-Hélène Abel, head of UTC’s IT depart­ment and equal­i­ty coor­di­na­tor at UTC, «has tak­en up the prin­ci­ple of con­fer­ences, round-table dis­cus­sions, work­shops and live broad­casts on social net­works, but with more events focus­ing on the sci­ences». The pro­gramme includes three work­shops led by the stu­dent asso­ci­a­tion Stop VSS (Sex­ist and Sex­u­al Vio­lence), pro­mo­tion of sci­ence in sec­ondary schools by the asso­ci­a­tion Sci­ences égales, sketch­es based on dis­crim­i­na­to­ry sit­u­a­tions per­formed by Profit’roles (UTC’s the­atre asso­ci­a­tion), inter­net “lives” on build­ing a work­ing rela­tion­ship and dis­abil­i­ty, a round-table dis­cus­sion with women man­agers (see box)… Rich, inter­ac­tive and con­struc­tive, Equal­i­ty Month opened with a lec­ture by Camille Van Belle, sci­ence jour­nal­ist for Sci­ence et Vie junior, on the theme of «How his­to­ry dis­missed women pio­neers of sci­ence! «and an exhi­bi­tion of illus­tra­tions from her com­ic strip Les oubliés de la science.

Out of the shade, into the light

Not by omis­sion but by racism and ordi­nary sex­ism, Vera Rubin, the Amer­i­can astronomer who con­sol­i­dat­ed the exis­tence of dark mat­ter, the British Ros­alind Franklin, the pio­neer of mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gy who for­mu­lat­ed the struc­ture of DNA and the British Ada Lovelace who cre­at­ed the first com­put­er pro­gramme, have remained in the shad­ows. Usurped works, erased from the col­lec­tive mem­o­ry, these women whose «work is not anec­do­tal», Camille Van Belle points out, are brought out of obliv­ion by the humor­ous pen­cil strokes of the thir­ty-year-old, «so that they con­tin­ue not to be for­got­ten». The com­ic strip Les oubliés de la sci­ence, pub­lished in 2022, does jus­tice to «the women who have made his­to­ry and over­come many soci­etal obsta­cles, such as access to uni­ver­si­ties. The argu­ment that women don’t have enough self-con­fi­dence is false. Today, things have changed. The fem­i­nist move­ment and the lib­er­a­tion of speech have con­tributed to this, just as aware­ness and mea cul­pa have enabled more Nobel Prizes to be award­ed to women in recent decades».

Banning violence

In order to shed light on the mech­a­nisms that lead to sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence, which is often mod­elled on the repro­duc­tion of a patri­ar­chal sys­tem, the Stop VSS asso­ci­a­tion, which has been involved at UTC since 2020, has organ­ised inter­ac­tive work­shops ded­i­cat­ed to stu­dents who are con­front­ed with these issues or who wish to delve deep­er into sub­jects such as domes­tic vio­lence and inclu­sion. A pre­ven­tion and aware­ness-rais­ing mod­ule set up in 2022 and fund­ed by the Con­tri­bu­tion de vie étu­di­ante et de cam­pus (CVEC) and the French Min­istry for High­er Edu­ca­tion, has led to the cre­ation of a lis­ten­ing and report­ing unit. «A dis­sua­sive mea­sure that rais­es aware­ness and lim­its the prob­lems,» says Clara Jean, pres­i­dent of the Stop VSS asso­ci­a­tion. The UTC has also con­tact­ed the VSS For­ma­tion net­work, an exter­nal organ­i­sa­tion respon­si­ble for train­ing and rais­ing aware­ness in high­er edu­ca­tion and research. «Last semes­ter, near­ly 500 peo­ple were trained. Since Feb­ru­ary, train­ing cours­es have become com­pul­so­ry for all new students.

3 questions to Marie-Hélène Abel, academic delegate for equality at UTC

Why is the Equal­i­ty Month impor­tant?
This month was ini­ti­at­ed with the help of col­leagues who con­tributed to the con­tent and involved all UTC, which is very com­mit­ted to the issue. The prize for the most com­mit­ted school in 2023 was very encour­ag­ing. This month facil­i­tates exchanges and tack­les equal­i­ty in the broad­est sense, in order to raise aware­ness of dis­crim­i­na­tion occur­rences in every­day life. The abo­li­tion of all types of dis­crim­i­na­tion, the pro­mo­tion of gen­der equal­i­ty and co-edu­ca­tion in engi­neer­ing cours­es and pro­fes­sions are just as impor­tant as attract­ing young girls to this sec­tor and to gen­dered posi­tions of respon­si­bil­i­ty. They must be daring!

What is the dis­tri­b­u­tion of enrol­ments at the UTC?
UTC is lucky to have 52% girls and 48% boys enrolled in the first year. With the two years of core cours­es, this fig­ure remains bal­anced at 50.32% girls and 49.68% boys.

What oth­er exam­ples of action is UTC propos­ing?
With the Sci­ences Égales stu­dent asso­ci­a­tion, we are plan­ning a work­shop in pri­ma­ry schools in pri­or­i­ty areas to intro­duce algo­rithms to the pupils. The aim is to break down stereo­types, such as the belief that com­put­ing is the pre­serve of male geeks. If these work­shops work, we will adapt them for nurs­ery schools. Regard­less of gen­der, social back­ground or soci­etal for­mat­ting, we need to enable every­one to see them­selves in the fields of sci­ence, with the same oppor­tu­ni­ties and to open fields of possibilities.

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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