50 years ago, 7 pioneers and two valedictorians
The publication of the results of the entrance exam to Ecole Polytechnique on August 2, 1972, marked the entry of seven women to Ecole Polytechnique, one of whom, Anne Duthilleul-Chopinet, was the valedictorian of her class, and the other, Ta Thu Thuy, was the valedictorian of the fifteen foreigners admitted. Françoise Combelles, Anne Ferry, Nicole Gontier, Elisabeth Dupont-Kerlan and Dominique Senequier, the youngest at 17 and a half, were the other five pioneers.
From its creation in 1794 to 1972, the École Polytechnique, militarized by Napoleon in 1804, was an almost exclusively male universe. It was Michel Debré who, as Minister of Defense in the Pompidou government from 1969 to March 1973, took the decision to open Ecole Polytechnique to women.
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the entrance exam to the Ingénieur Polytechnicien program to women. The School and its community are mobilizing throughout the year through a number of events to celebrate this anniversary. An exhibition entitled "Fifty years of feminization of l’X : Celebrate and Inspire", dedicated to the feminization of :’X and presenting the inspiring careers of its women alumni, was inaugurated on March 31st.
The two part exhibition was installed at the Palais Garnier - Opéra de Paris on the occasion of the X Ball 2022 on May 20th. The first part of the exhibition traces nearly two centuries of women's presence-absence at l’X and shows how a male-only School made up for the absence of women in its midst, highlighting that gender identity issues are far from new. The second part showcases the often pioneering and always inspiring careers of female graduates and students of Ecole Polytechnique through portraits highlighting their successes and achievements to inspire future generations. A virtual visit is available on the dedicated website.
Fifty years after the opening of the Ingénieur Polytechnicien program to women, Ecole Polytechnique is is stepping up its efforts to promote women’s position. The presence of women has increased - even if it remains insufficient - to 20%. The School hopes that gender diversity will increase in this program, as it has in other programs (Bachelor's and Masters of Science & Technology), which have an average of 37% women.
Working in close coordination with the French Ministry of Education and government agencies, l’X is aiming for a 30% female enrollment in its programs by 2026 and a 40% female enrollment in the recruitment of female professors and researchers.