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French Prime Minister closes the ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of women entering at École Polytechnique

The French Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne (X81), closed the event organized by École Polytechnique to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the admission of women to the School. The event brought together many alumni and representatives of the Polytechnic community as well as 50 high school female students who aspire to pursue scientific studies.
16 Nov. 2022
Institution, Alumni association-AX, Foundation-FX

The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne (X81), closed the big evening organized on November 15th by  École Polytechnique, the culmination of events that have celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of women's entry into École Polytechnique over the past few months.

On this occasion, she pleaded in favor of gender diversity in scientific studies and careers and called for "progress, breaking stereotypes to bring young women into scientific studies and careers."

"Over the past 50 years, the graduating classes (of École Polytechnique) have been partially feminized, but we are still far from achieving this goal," declared Élisabeth Borne at this event organized at the École Militaire in Paris, which brought together many female polytechnicians, representatives of École polytechnique community, as well as 50 high school female students who aspire to pursue scientific studies, accompanied by their teachers.

Eric Labaye, the president of École Polytechnique and Institut Polytechnique de Paris, also emphasized in a speech that "the School wishes to be even more mixed, and is not satisfied with the number of women in the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program today."

"École Polytechnique is aiming for 30% of women in its education programs by 2026 and 40% of women in terms of recruitment among professors and researchers, given that 45% of the members of the Executive Committee of École Polytechnique are already women," said Eric Labaye.

"This event is an opportunity to pay tribute to the careers of the women polytechnicians that have followed each other on the École's benches over the past 50 years. It is also an opportunity to look to the future, and I would like to address a word to the 50 high school female students present this evening, and through (them) to all the high school female students in France," Élisabeth Borne emphasized.

"There is no destiny, there is no male or female destiny, there is only desire, work and talent. So don't let yourself be told that a certain field is not for you, don't let yourself be told that a career or a dream is only for men. Whatever your dreams are, there will always be ominous birds caught up in clichés, fears and conservatism who will tell you that it is not possible. Make them lie, your gender should not be an issue," carried on the Prime Minister.

She had previously mentioned the great female figures who have marked the history of École Polytechnique, citing the first of them, the mathematician Sophie Germain (1776-1831), alias Antoine Auguste Leblanc, who had to cross-dress in order to gain access to a School that was closed to women from its creation in 1794 until 1972.


The Prime Minister also recalled the memory of Claudine Hermann, the first female professor at École Polytechnique, who died in 2021. Among the many women polytechnicians attending this event, she particularly paid tribute to Anne Duthilleul-Chopinet, one of the first seven women admitted to École Polytechnique and valedictorian, Marion Guillou (X73), the first and so far only former president of the Board of Directors of École Polytechnique, and Laura Chaubard (X99), the first female director general of École Polytechnique, appointed on October 5, 2022.

Time for a talk

Along Isabelle Rome, Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister, in charge of Equality between Women and Men, Élisabeth Borne met with a number of high school female students, female Polytechnic students, recent female Polytechnic graduates, and two of the first female X graduates, Anne Duthilleul-Chopinet and Dominique Senequier (X72).

The Prime Minister's speech was preceded by the screening of the film "Polytechnicienne", a documentary by Pauline Pallier, produced by École Polytechnique and Magneto, combining the testimonies of seven women polytechnicians: Aude Nyadanu (X2011), founder and director of the start-up Lowpital, Sonia Fliss, X2000, teacher-researcher at ENSTA, Christel Heydemann (X94), CEO of Orange Group, Laurence Jacques (X88), CEO of EcoXtract, Anne-Marie Lagrange, (X82), astrophysicist, Dominique Senequier, president and founder of Ardian, and Anne Duthilleul-Chopinet.

Their testimonies fueled the debates of a round table on the theme: "Science and gender diversity: how to solve the equation? "This debate brought together Sarah Lamaison (X2012), founder and CEO of Dioxycle, Christel Heydemann, Oumaïma Bouanane, a student of the Ingénieur polytechnicien class of 2020, Olivier Andriès, (X81), CEO of the Safran Group, and Clémence Perronnet, a sociologist.

Throughout the year, the School and its community mobilized through a number of events to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program entrance exam to women. An exhibition entitled "Fifty Years of Feminization of École Polytechnique: Celebrate and Inspire", dedicated to the feminization of the School and presenting the inspiring careers of its alumnae, was inaugurated on March 31 with many of them attending.


Arrival of the French Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne
Eric Labaye, président of École polytechnique welcomes Élisabeth Borne
Attendees at the evening celebration at Ecole militaire in Paris
Female secondary school students attending the evening celebrations
Prime minister Élisabeth Borne delivering her speech
Élisabeth Borne in talks with female high school students
The round table "Sciences and gender diversity : How to solve the equation?"