By Arman Izadi
The Ledger took the opportunity to sit down with Morgan Grobin, an Electrical U3 (technically) student who has been heavily involved in the EUS since her first year, to talk about her involvement and what it’s like being a woman in engineering.
Ledger: First things first. What motivated you to get involved?
Morgan: Like many others, it was the Frosh speech that really first inspired me. Josh Reddel gave the speech, and he explained the importance of involvement which made a huge impact on me. During Frosh, I felt a connection to other engineers. We felt like a tight-knit family that knew all of these songs and chants that only we knew. I also saw the people in lab coats — PPO members — and, naturally, got curious and wanted to be a part of this exclusive club. When they told me I had to get involved [in order to join] that only motivated me further. Before University, I was involved in high school, so it just made sense to carry that on.
L: How did you first start your involvement?
M: I went to engineering activities day and signed up for everything. But I mostly followed up with, and ended up joining POWE, EWB and Snowmobile in first year. Then, at the end of first semester… I just walked into the EUS office and asked if there was any open positions, literally saying “I want to do more.” Paul Noble was the VP Internal at the time and was looking for a sports rep. He gave me the position right then and there, with no interview (different times). So Bryan Gingras and I ended up as sports reps in my first semester. We organized broomball and flag football as usual, as well as ultimate frisbee and other cool activities.
L: Since then, what have you been involved in?
M: In first year, I was really involved with POWE, volunteering for all of the events. As a result, I became POWE VP External. This worked well because I then ran unopposed for EUS VP Clubs and Admin (now known as VP Student Life), and VP External of POWE was the bridge between POWE and the EUS at the time. Those experiences were great to learn how the EUS works and get accustomed to all of its bureaucracies.
During my time as VP C&A, I spearheaded a constitutional review and helped develop clubs and design team bylaws with the help of the amazing Zach Oman. In my fourth semester, I was selected to be an OAP manager and have been one ever since, racking up a tremendous total of 11 OAP’s and OAP Lites since April 2013.
In third year, I was the EUS IT Director. I looked up to Dan Greencorn (the previous IT director) and decided it was the best thing that year. I was also selected as PPO Chief that same year. The year after, I was the EUS Senator and kept up my role as IT director. Sixth year I had a part time role as the office administrative assistant to aid Dianne Ferguson (our beloved Hot Mama) in her eventual retirement. It’s my seventh year now, and I’m a Copi-EUS manager.
Overall, I’ve continued being an OAP manager consistently, I’ve done some random volunteering at events (Iron Ring Wine and Cheese, Blues Pubs, whenever an event need helps, MERTW, Techfair, etc.) and helped out wherever I can.
L: You definitely have one of the most extensive and impressive histories of involvement that we’ve seen. What’s your advice for someone who wants to start out getting involved?
M: Persistence is key. Not because we don’t want you, but because everyone who is involved is usually so busy that it’s hard [for them] to go out of their way to encourage you to keep coming back, check in with you, or push you towards new opportunities. Everybody here cares deeply about what we do and why we do it and we always want new people to come in. There are endless opportunities and a million positions. Find something you really like, go find whoever’s in charge of it, or on that committee/club/etc, talk to them or just show up. Maybe even help them out and do work without being on it (ECSESS Events Committee is an example of how to help plan and run ECSESS Internal events without being on ECSESS council).
L: So the main question for today is how do you feel being a women in engineering?
M: When I walked into class in my first two years, I could feel 80% of the class turn and stare. The novelty of the attention wore off pretty quick, and became uncomfortable even quicker. So I cut my hair to try and fight the attention, but it didn’t stop. There were only a couple of girls in classes, so I felt singled out and that made me really uncomfortable. Other than that, I’ve never felt any real discrimination at McGill for being a woman, although the McGill community is not a good indicator of society as a whole. I have definitely heard odd comments and blatant discrimination from coworkers when I was on internships. The good thing about the EUS is that the proportion of involved women is much higher than the proportion of women in the engineering faculty as a whole.
L: Thank you so much for sharing with us! Any last advice?
M: POWE helped me a lot in my first year to understand what it’s like to be in engineering as a woman. Women-only events and socials are very crucial for finding those people you’re comfortable with and can talk to about your life in engineering and about shared experiences.
Lastly, we are in school primarily to be in school. That’s something one doesn’t really realize or value until there are ramifications (author’s note: “Amen”). Having a bad GPA is not the end of the world; yes, we are not defined by our grades. That being said, it’s important to balance one’s time right, prioritize well, and balance one’s times even better.