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École Polytechnique opened its doors to women!

In 2022, it has been 50 years since the prestigious École Polytechnique opened its doors to women!

Also called “The X”, do you know Polytech?

Women in the spotlight

The year 2022 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Polytechnic Engineering Cycle competitive programme  to women. To celebrate this event, all the women who have succeeded one another at X were honoured on Thursday 31 March 2022.

The exhibition “50 Years of Women @ École Polytechnique: Celebrating and Inspiring” was inaugurated in the presence of many alumnae whose inspiring careers were presented on this occasion.

Eric Labaye, President of École Polytechnique, in an opening speech said:

“Through this anniversary, the École Polytechnique wishes to celebrate women polytechnicians and inspire others,This exhibition not only highlights women polytechnicians, but also women from the École’s doctoral programmes and the first women graduates of the programs set up only a few years ago: the Bachelor’s degree, the Master of Science & Technology and the Executive Master’s programme. They too are part of the history of the École Polytechnique and are shaping it.

Some of them are well known, such as Christel Heydemann, who became the CEO of Orange on 4 April, the first woman to hold this position. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, former Minister of Ecology under President Nicolas Sarkozy, now a consultant for Capgemini in New York. Dominique Senequier, the founder and president of the private equity firm Ardian.

A world-renowned historical institution

École Polytechnique, also known as l’X, is an historic institution. Founded in 1794, it has a leading role in the French academic tradition – Poincaré, Ampère, Schwartz and Fresnel are just a few of the prestigious scientists to have studied here.

It is France’s leading institution of excellence in Science and Technology, with a rich history spanning over 225 years. École Polytechnique has a wide array of academic programmes to offer students from undergraduate studies to executive education.

The school ensures that students graduate with not only an excellent scientific education, but also a strong multidisciplinary background. The curriculum focuses mainly on science: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, economics, computer science, mechanics, etc., but also includes a variety of subjects like foreign languages, sports, humanities, social sciences, arts, and literature.

The university offers a Bachelor of Science, a three-year programme designed for students with a strong interest in mathematics and science. This highly selective and multidisciplinary program is taught entirely in English and leads to a double major that allows students to develop strong knowledge and skills in both disciplines.

Created in June 2019, Institut Polytechnique de Paris is a public institution of higher education and research, encompassing 5 prestigious French engineering schools: École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris, Télécom SudParis. Since its creation, IP Paris has established itself as a world-class institution of higher education and scientific and technological research, capable of attracting the best French and foreign researchers and students, and thus being an essential driving force for France’s power and influence. 

École Polytechnique is a highly international institution and places global exposure and exchange at the centre of its academic programmes and research projects. Following its international policy, École Polytechnique holds strong partnerships with top universities and international alliances worldwide and continues to develop its global network of academic and scientific excellence.

As of its first entry in the QS World University Rankings 2022, Institut Polytechnique de Paris has reached the top 50 institutions worldwide.

An institution who  integrates gender equality…

Ecole Polytechnique’s commitment to gender equality constitutes the grounds for building an internal diverse environment that faces current social challenges.

To overcome current gender gap, present in Higher Education Institutions, Ecole Polytechnique’s engagement is focused on overcoming possible discrimination against girls and young women from the access to scientific education, fighting self-censorship, promoting equity strategies in the workplace and public representation, and preventing sexual or sexist violence.

To achieve this goal, the Ecole Polytechnique’s current Gender Equality Plan (adopted in 2021 by the Governing Board) includes 4 key actions:

  1. Assess, prevent and address gender pay gaps
  2. Guarantee equal access for women and men to career development and professional responsibilities (recruitment, promotion and training).
  3. Support the balance between professional and personal life
  4. Prevent and confront discrimination, harassment and sexual and gender-based violence.

… But that still has some way to go

Marie Bresson, X’s diversity delegate, emphasises :

The percentage of women in the engineering programme still fluctuates between 18 and 22%. We need to break through the barrier of dialogue with young female high school students who love the sciences but never dare to choose this path for their future. Through this exhibition today, we want to make the link between engineering disciplines and the expectations of female high school students through concrete testimonials. The school is aiming for 30% women in its courses by 2026, as well as 40% women in terms of the recruitment of female teacher-researchers.

Throughout the year, highlights, testimonials, debates and meetings will be organised to celebrate fifty years of women at Polytechnique.

The exhibition “50 Years of Women @ École Polytechnique: Celebrating and Inspiring” has two parts:

Navigate between the fifty totems on which the stories and careers of women who have marked the path of equal opportunities remain inscribed. Since 1972, more than 4,000 women have graduated from the École Polytechnique as engineers. 

On your next visit to France, why not plan to visit this inspiring exhibition?

Stéphanie J inspired by 50 ans de féminisation de l’École polytechnique