Four women engineering students on building a monument against sexism

stella karen natalia erika
Left to right: Stella Gregorski (Year 4 ChemE), Karen Ng (Year 3 ECE), Natalia (Nat) Espinosa-Merlano (Year 3 MechE) and Erika Narimatsu (Year 3 MechE). (Photo: Safa Jinje)

On a dark evening in December 2022, members of the U of T Engineering community gathered in front of the Galbraith Building to unveil a student-built monument commemorating the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. 

Fourteen transparent figures stood on a wooden platform, each bearing the name of one of the 14 women killed on December 6, 1989, when an antifeminist gunman entered the École Polytechnique and targeted students who were women.   

The monument, designed and built by a group of women engineering students, was interactive: its colours changed and got brighter depending on how many people were standing on a pressure-sensitive pad concealed under nearby grass turf.   

“The symbolism was that you can’t make change by yourself — we have to all work together,” says Erika Narimatsu (Year 3 MechE).  

Ahead of February 11, the International Day of Women and Girls in STEM, writer Safa Jinje spoke with four of the women who led the creation of the monument: Narimatsu, Stella Gregorski (Year 4 ChemE), Natalia (Nat) Espinosa-Merlano (Year 3 MechE) and Karen Ng (Year 3 ECE).

Read the U of T Engineering News interview.