That day, twenty years ago, when a gunman entered École Polytechnique in Montreal, determined to murder feminists, I had just started my new career, a career in which I would eventually work for thirteen years. I heard the news just as I was leaving to catch my bus home on that snowy December evening, the news that fourteen female engineering students had been massacred. It was a mild night, but I will always remember the intense chill that I felt, a chill that burrowed deep into my soul, as I waited to transfer buses in front of store windows incongruously decked in festive holiday sparkles.
I too had studied in a traditionally male dominated field. I had fielded my share of sexism while in university, but I had also seen women finally become professors in my department, something which had been unheard of a few years earlier. That December night, as snow muffled the traffic of the downtown streets, much as gunfire had silenced fourteen voices, all the triumphs, personal and political, seemed shattered. And I wondered how we would ever drag ourselves out of the abyss.
I wonder now what those women might have become.