Julie Payette, engineer and former astronaut, is poised to take on the role of Governor General of Canada under the Trudeau government. Regardless of your place on the political spectrum or opinion of the fact that we even have a Governor General, this is something everyone should be excited about. Yes, perhaps it’s a distraction by the current government to impress us with an impressive, (over)qualified candidate, and yes, perhaps it would have been more important for the country to have an indigenous candidate as GG, but this doesn’t mean that the choice is a mistake.
With a bachelor’s in engineering and master’s of applied science, Payette holds several additional honorary degrees from various Canadian institutions. Her jam-packed CV includes two missions to space (!) and time as the commander-in-chief for the Canadian Armed Forces. She has spoken on several occasions about the issue of women in science and has an acute sense of what the actual problems are, not just with the recruitment of girls into science at a young age, but also with their ability to progress in their scientific career.
The reality is that there are still many fields of science and engineering that are male-dominated, and whether you want to believe it or not we have NOT reached equality in this area. Julie Payette, as a woman who has accomplished so much, WILL serve as, if nothing else, an absolute inspiration for young (and less young – i.e. me) girls considering studying science and engineering and pursuing high impact positions in these fields.
Whether you are a woman, have a daughter, or literally know any female, we should all be proud to have Julie Payette as the incoming Governor General, and if nothing else she is an inspiration for the next generation of scientists, male and female, all over the country.