Sciences and engineering have long been considered a typically “male” field. Researcher and engineering professor Dr. Eve Langelier is hoping to dispel this myth.
Dr. Langelier is the new NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Quebec), and her objective is to change society’s perception of the engineer and the scientist to show girls that women are successfully building careers and having fun in the fields of sciences and engineering.
Dr. Langelier specializes in tissue biomechanics, the study of the effects and control of forces that act on living tissue, such as bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, which adapt according to these mechanical forces. Her work focusses on the biomechanics of tendons, including the Achilles tendon, and on ways to prevent and treat damage to tendons.
Dr. Langelier never thought she would become a professor. As a young girl, she did not know which career path to choose. She liked art and health and had considered drawing anatomical charts. When she was a teenager, her father piloted his own plane, and she thought about designing aircrafts. Following this desire, she applied to the mechanical engineering program at Université Laval, unaware at the time of the field of biomedical engineering. When she discovered this field, she knew it was the path she wanted to follow. Biomedical engineering would enable her to study the human body—its functions, how to heal it, and its mechanical elements—while helping others. She chose her career out of passion and pleasure.
The possibility of helping others attracted Langelier to the biomedical field, and it now drives her research as much as her activities promoting science and engineering for women. She hopes that more young women will develop a passion for sciences and engineering and have the self-confidence to carve out their place in the field.
The activities she will carry out as the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering will target students finishing elementary school and all students in the higher grade levels. The activities should even target women in the job market. Dr. Langelier is looking forward to implementing her ideas and to improving the situation of women in sciences and engineering. Activities for elementary school students are designed to break stereotypes, to make science fun, and to make students more aware of jobs in sciences and engineering. At the high school level, Dr. Langelier will continue carrying on activities that are already in place, such as Les filles et les sciences, un duo électrisant! By targeting female college students, academics, and professionals, she aims to address the “leaky pipe” phenomenon, where women leave sciences and engineering, and to prevent the “leak” through mentoring and by helping women build a toolbox of resources.
Along with the research she is conducting in her lab at Université de Sherbrooke and her activities to promote sciences and engineering for women, Dr. Langelier loves teaching and is always improving her classes. She also manages to maintain a balance between her professional and personal life.