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Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering

POWE McGill
Powe.png
Established September 1990
Contact powe@mcgilleus.ca
Website

Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering (POWE) is a McGill student-run organization with a vision to increase the presence of women in the engineering classroom and profession. To achieve this goal, POWE reaches out to future engineering students and supports current students through professional development activities.

Mandate

Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering (POWE) is a philanthropic group at McGill University under Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). POWE’s main goals are:

  • To encourage young women and feminine-identifying gender minorities to join engineering by exposing them to the many career opportunities that an engineering degree offers
  • To enlighten everyone about the important contributions and general role of women in the engineering field
  • To create a positive and friendly safe space where fellow women and feminine-identifying gender minorities in engineering can socialize and seek support
  • To promote inclusion and diversity in engineering in all our activities

History

A women-in-engineering committee was initially founded in September 1989 as a group put together by the Faculty of Engineering designed to discuss the barriers to access that existed for gender minorities in engineering.

On December 6, 1989, fourteen female engineering students were murdered in the École Polytechnique massacre, one of the deadliest mass shootings in Canadian history. Since then and to this day, POWE collects signatures from students and faculty members who stand in solidarity with the victims and who stand against gender-based violence and discrimination in engineering.

This jarring event shaped the need for women-in-engineering committee as a student group. In response to the senseless act of violence, students officially came together in September 1990 to form the group named POWE that would lift the barriers to access and support the role of gender minorities in engineering. The group was initially student committee in the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS), and later gained more independence as a club in the EUS. We have since developed impactful outreach and professional development portfolios that continue to encourage women and feminine-identifying gender minorities to strive in their field of study, while maintaining a community that can stand together as a voice for gender minority engineering students.

The first POWE Speed Networking event took place in 2010, which marked 20 years after the group's founding. The first SymPOWEsium will take place in the 2020-2021 academic year to mark 30 years after the group's founding.

Events

 
Speed Mentoring Event, Fall 2019

Professional and Academic Events

Our professional development portfolio aims to educate current POWE members and McGill engineering students at large about the various opportunities that exist for women and feminine-identifying gender minorities in their field of study. This is made possible through our various networking and on-campus mentorship events that aim to connect students with industry representatives in diverse engineering fields and from varying academic backgrounds.

Speed Mentoring

Speed Mentoring is an annual POWE event that takes place during the fall semester where we invite around 15 professionals and roughly 35 students to have fast-paced yet stimulating discussions in small groups. These conversations allow students to understand current industry professionals’ experience as a woman in the industry, their career trajectory, and get quick mentorship and guidance.

Speed Networking

This is our popular annual group-networking event that takes place at the start of the winter semester and is filled with career advice and fast-paced discussions between professionals and students. This event aims to provide guidance, advice, and knowledge to current engineering students. Professionals share their experiences regarding diversity, discuss challenges especially about equity and their own career journeys. Students will have the chance to make meaningful connections with industry representatives in order to further their own personal and professional growth, and obtain a stronger sense of what comes after university.

Office Tours

Throughout the year, POWE is able to bring groups of students to visit the offices of industry-leading companies in Montreal. This allows students to learn more about various industries in an immersive environment and gain valuable contacts to expand their networks. These tours aim to expose students to a wide variety of possible career paths with the hope of encouraging feminine-identifying gender minority students to remain within the engineering discipline after graduation. In the past, POWE has visited Medtronics, CSA (Canadian Space Agency), Pfizer, Pepsi Co., IREQ (Hydro-Quebec Research Institute), Genetec, Rio Tinto, l'Oreal Canada, McKinsey and Company, and many more!

 
POWE representatives attending the SWE Conference in Anaheim, California in 2019

Participation in External Conferences

One of our major initiatives is in sending a strong delegation to represent POWE and McGill to various external science and engineering conferences, namely the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Conference and the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) Conference. These conferences give selected delegates the opportunity to connect with industry, academic, and student representatives from across Canada, and internationally, while providing a keen opportunity to learn and be inspired about their discipline on a more global level. Conference delegates are expected to learn new skills and share their insights after the conference with the POWE community at a general meeting.

Industry Panels

POWE holds diverse panels throughout the year, in order to provide students with an opportunity to learn more about what they can do with their degree, and connect with professionals currently working in the field. This is an opportunity that is beneficial to students of all years who want to expand their knowledge and learn something new about different industries.

Internal Conferences

POWE hosts its own conferences and symposiums in order to inspire young women to pursue their careers in an engineering and engineering-related field of study. Our goal is to create a space where women from varying academic backgrounds and experiences can openly discuss career journeys, network, learn and be inspired.

SymPOWEsium

This 2-day conference for women and feminine-indentifying gender minority undergraduate students includes many networking and career counselling opportunities for women to gain a keen understanding of their field of study and what to expect after graduation. Our goal through the annual Women in Engineering SymPOWEsium is to encourage, inspire, support and celebrate feminine-indentifying professionals and soon-to-be professionals in primarily male-dominated fields. SymPOWEsium will be launched for the first time in March 2021 and will include many professional development events, including the following:

  • One-on-one networking with industry professionals and academics
  • Q&A-style career fair with participating company representatives
  • Panel discussions
  • Interactive workshops and problem-based learning sessions
  • Keynote speaker by an accomplished woman in engineering
 
POWE Conference 2019

POWE Conference

POWE’s Conference invites over 135 high school students from the Montreal and surrounding area to visit McGill for a day to experience a microcosm of what it means to be a McGill engineering student. This conference takes place during McGill’s winter semester every year. The full day conference involves a keynote speaker, lab tours, student and professional panels, and concludes with a design competition. Year after year, we receive enormously positive feedback from both participating teachers and students!

Social and Community Involvement Events

One of our primary goals is to foster a sense of community amongst women and feminine-identifying gender minority students in engineering. This is done through multiple social and community building events throughout the year in hopes of creating a safe space where students can thrive in a positive and friendly environment. Through these initiatives, we aim to support and uplift our community.

Weekly General Meetings

These general meetings are an opportunity to de-stress from school and commitments, and just find a space to meet new like-minded people and engage in low-stress and fun activities for 30 minutes to one hour per week. General meetings in the past have included POWE Game Night, secret Santa gift exchanges, trivia challenges and much more!

Socials

Our first general meeting of the fall semester is our annual Ice Cream Social that invites all POWE members to an evening of ice cream and sorbet from Frostbite! Similarly, our first winter semester general meeting is the annual Hot Chocolate Social that welcomes all POWE members to an evening in the EUS Common Room with a warm beverage and even warmer company! Other socials throughout the year include a POWE brunch, game night, ice skating and movie night.

Merch Sale

By far one of our favorite social activities aimed to build hype around our group and give people the opportunity to show their love for POWE through fashion is through our merch sales! We sell POWE sweaters every year, and we distribute POWE pens and stickers at all our outreach and involvement events. By volunteering for outreach workshops or the POWE Conference, you can also get a free POWE t-shirt. In recent years, we have also sold and given away more specialty items including mugs and patches bearing our logo.

Social Media Giveaways

Every semester, POWE does a social media giveaway, which gives all of our social media followers the chance to win a package of POWE merch for free.

POWE Tea Time

If you need a study-buddy, or you want company, or just want to sit with a fellow POWE member while you work, come to POWE Tea Time! These are online “office hours” with POWE members where you can sit with us from the comfort of your home in a casual meeting between POWE members and friends.

POWE Book Club

Once a month, our general meeting is dedicated to hosting a book club! At the start of the month, we distribute a short article, story or TED talk related to our mandate that members are expected to view/read before the day of the book club. Members can submit pieces that they would like to view/read via an interest form, and selection of a piece for that month is based on a vote by all our participating members. On the day of the book club, discussion topics will be provided related to the piece in order to facilitate a conversation about that selected article, story or video. This is in hopes of starting a dialogue about various topics of interest and broadening our horizons amongst like-minded individuals.

Outreach and Mentorship Events

The outreach portfolio aims to inspire and encourage youth to pursue a field in engineering. Through workshops, school visits and our year-long mentorship program, POWE educates younger students about our engineering programs, services and opportunities within our field and at our university. Some of the major outreach initiatives include Caravan visits to CEGEPS, Explore McGill design workshops, and the Shadow Days Mentorship Program.

Caravan Visits

Several McGill faculties visit CEGEPs in the greater Montreal area every year to help answer students’ concerns and promote the University. POWE Outreach representatives attend these caravan visits alongside MESC to answer questions about the faculty, as well as promote POWE’s mission of inclusivity.

Explore McGill

The Explore McGill program was pioneered by McGill’s high school liaison representative, Joelle Neish. POWE’s Outreach members work alongside Joelle’s direction to give engineering presentations to high school students followed by a design competition for them to enjoy hands-on experience doing an activity related to the field. In the past, an example of a design competition was building a catapult that launches a ball the furthest distance.

Shadow Days Mentorship Program

The Shadow Days Mentorship Program connects a current McGill engineering student, the mentor, to a high school student, the mentee. The mentor acts as a pen-pal and is often the first friend an incoming student makes at the university.

A Walk for Education (POWE x NSBE)

This event often takes place in late October in partnership with NSBE. POWE members table for elementary school students to teach them about engineering. We often have a hands-on learning activity such as a strawberry DNA extraction that the students can participate in.

Les Filles et Les Sciences

Les Filles et Les Sciences is an annual event that takes place at Polytechnique or ETS, where various universities table for high school students. This event is also followed by a hands-on learning activity that is more targeted to high school students (such as bridge building).

EmPOWEr Mentorship Program

The EmPOWEr mentorship program pairs incoming women and feminine-identifying gender minorities engineering students with current McGill engineering students on the basis of similar fields of study and similar academic backgrounds. This mentorship initiative allows incoming students to have a person to contact with any questions they may have before school begins and allows them to get a taste of university life in the summer before they start school.

Executive Team

2022-2023 Executive Team
Position: Name:
Co-President Yasmine Laferrière
Co-President Melanie Rodger
VP Branding Hitaishi Dhoowooah
VP Conference AnnaMaria Zubieta
VP External Shaza Ghawanmeh
VP Finance Amélie Barsoum
VP Internal Mona Kalaoun
VP Outreach Ghia El-Zoubeir
VP Social Media Anna Dove-McFalls
VP Sponsorship Serena Kim
Community Director Anna Donova
Photography Director Katia Hwang
2021-2022 Executive Team
Position: Name:
Co-President Julia Strauss
Co-President Lakshmi Roy
VP Branding Paola Prado
VP Conference Laurence Peinturier
VP External Ruolin Zhang
VP Finance Sofia Dieguez
VP Internal Yasmine Laferrière
VP Outreach Ashley Scappaticci
VP Social Media Purba Sarkar
VP Sponsorship Stephanie Kirichu
Community Director Katia Hwang
Photography Director Melanie Rodger
2020-2021 Executive Team
Position: Name:
Co-President Houda Shafique
Co-President Sarah Ford
VP Branding Suzanne Lee
VP Conference Saumiyaa Pathmarajah
VP External Sruthi Sudhir
VP Finance Florence Yared
VP Internal Sharon Kattar
VP Outreach Lakshmi Roy
VP Social Media Ruolin Zhang
VP Sponsorship Julia Strauss
Community Director Stephanie Kirichu
Photography Director Melanie Rodger
2019-2020 Executive Team
Position: Name:
Co-President Diana Serra
Co-President Taylor Curtis
VP Communications Suzanne Lee
VP Conference Julia Strauss
VP External Sarah Ford
VP Finance Sadiyah Shamsuzzaman
VP Internal Sharon Kattar
VP Mentorship Houda Shafique
VP Outreach Aastha Goyal
VP Sponsorship Julia London
2018-2019 Executive Team
Position: Name:
Co-President Nina Qi
Co-President Emma Rozier
VP Communications Jenny Li
VP Conference Catherine Pronovost
VP External Serah Ladhani
VP Finance Stephanie Wu
VP Internal Diana Serra
VP Mentorship Julia London
VP Outreach Taylor Curtis
VP Sponsorship Tiffany Wang
2017-2018 Executive Team
Position: Name:
Co-President Isabella Bozzo
Co-President Stephanie Greene
VP Communications Nina Qi
VP Conference Sara Bozzo
VP External Jenny Pan
VP Finance Emma Rozier
VP Internal Marika Ueda
VP Mentorship Diana Serra
VP Outreach Taylor Curtis
2016-2017 Executive Team
Position: Name:
President Helen Lin
VP Communications Stephanie Greene
VP Conference Isabella Bozzo
VP Engagement Gustav Sustar
VP External Amanda Bianco
VP Finance Sarah Ma
VP Internal Emma Rozier
VP Mentorship Tarjei Skaar
VP Outreach Gabriel Benchitrit
2015-2016 Executive Team
Position: Name:
President Vanessa Jones
VP Communications Jacqueline Harvey
VP Conference Helen Lin
VP External Jacqueline Varey
VP Finance Sarah Ma
VP Internal Sheelah McCarthy

Fun Facts

 
2019-2020 Co-President Diana Serra accepting the Preston Phipps Diversity & Equity Award in 2019

POWE Feedback Form

If you would like to provide us with feedback, comments or suggestions for our current and prospective events and initiatives, please contact us directly at powe@mcgilleus.ca or submit your comments through the following anonymous and confidential feedback form here. This form is checked on a weekly basis by POWE’s current president(s) and all feedback will be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner.