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Encouraging Women in STEM Fields Is One Way to Change This Conversation

12/06/2014 11:29 EST | Updated 02/05/2015 05:59 EST
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1. Montreal Massacre was an Act of Violence Against Women

December 6, 2014 marks 25 yearssince the tragic incident at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal also known as the Montreal Massacre.

It is argued that this occurrence, where 14 women's lives were cut short simply because they were women, is blamed on the existence of feminism. To be a feminist is a right just as it is to be human should be a right, no matter the gender, the class, culture, religion or sexual orientation or any other phobia existing out there. The fact is that women have experienced violence since the beginning of times and, if it wasn't for feminism the issue will still continue today where women would be violated of their rights with no support.

Yes, the system is not perfect, yet not having feminism in place, we would not have the first step towards a solution to a human right, to women's rights. The outcome of this incident, declaring December 6 the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, it is because of the effort put in by feminists and organizations alike to ensure that awareness is raised to prevent the same outcome.

Gun laws have been changed and now women have more support when deciding to step up to violence. To have women murdered just because they are women is an act of violence and not only towards the women who were killed during the December 6 incident but also the ones before them and the ones after them. The media and many other organizations, feminist or not, have raised awareness on the importance of women's rights and violence against women. If we look at the media today and see how we respond to violence against women it is in no doubt a step forward in the right direction.

We see the cases of Jian Gomeshi and Bill Cosby today, and although unbelievable to some, it is important to recognize that selfish acts of violence against women can happen to a woman from any class performed by a man from any class.

2. Montreal Massacre, a selfish act of injustice to Women in Engineering

What is less talked about when discussing Montreal Massacre, and as equally important, is the rights of women to choose a profession which is considered male dominated. The December 6 event had played an important role in women in STEM. Undoubtedly, this incident had a lot to do with women's involvement in engineering and how someone believed that women do not have the right to this profession.

This incident has induced a lot of negative impact on women and men who have witnessed it firsthand but also from afar. The same impact it had on girls and young women who may have dreamed of entering professions in STEM fields yet, out of fear, they changed their mind. The question remains, why this school and why not a different school? Not to say that I agree with violence yet the fact that the women murdered were in the process of entering what is known as a male dominated industry, speaks volumes. As of today, the number of women in STEM fields is significantly lower than men and that says a lot about the message that this incident is trying to spread.

3. Lesson Learned from Montreal Massacre and Moving Forward

We now know that just because we are women we can be prevented from following careers of choice. We are also aware of the negative impact that violence against women has in our society and how important feminism is in order to create positive change for all. When a woman is affected by violence her whole life changes.

I know firsthand about the negative impacts violence has on a woman's life and how hard it is to move forward even after speaking out. I also know that silence gives power to the abuser and it is better to stand up to violence rather than accepting it. The same goes for choosing to be involved in a career dominated by men however, we will never create change if we stand still. Becoming more involved in STEM fields as women despite the challenges, will create that positive effect that we all want and need.

Creating a society where choosing to become involved in a profession because we have interest in it rather than because we carry a certain gender it is justice to everyone. To move forward and to create change we must stand firm by this belief. When men and women join forces to support the next generation of women and the women currently working in STEM fields, we are sending a message to the next generation that believe in them enough to stand by them.

If we start creating that change today, 25 years from now, when we remember Montreal Massacre, we will have a different conversation. We owe it to the 14 women who have lost their lives to build that positive change that they have sacrificed for. The victims of this tragic incident have left us with the responsibility to create a legacy where women will be living a life of choice of their own.

Supporting organizations who are working on providing access to innovative resources for the next generation of women in STEM fields is a great start. Encouraging young women to pursue their dream career is another great way to create a different type of conversation 25 years from now.

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