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Claudette MacKay-Lassonde was a prominent engineer and leader in energy and telecommunications fields. She was also an outspoken advocate for science and engineering as viable career options for women. Dr. MacKay-Lassonde was born in Montreal, Québec, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at École Polytechnique. She married fellow engineering student, Pierre Lassonde (b. 1947–) in 1970, and the couple had two children.
After graduating from École Polytechnique in 1971, Claudette MacKay-Lassonde earned her Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Utah. She went on to earn her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1983 from the University of Toronto. Dr. MacKay-Lassonde’s honourary degrees encompass numerous doctorates of engineering, including the University of Windsor’s honourary engineering doctorate (1986), an Honourary Doctor of Science from Queen’s University (1993) and an Honourary Doctor of Laws from Concordia University (1996).
Claudette MacKay-Lassonde challenged hostilities and stereotypes towards women within science and engineering fields. She spoke in such diverse settings as elementary school career fairs, university engineering convocations and conventions of women engineers. She helped found Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), in 1977, and also organized the First Canadian Convention of Women Engineers in Toronto, Ontario (1981) to help engineering women communicate and mobilize to advance their careers.
From 1986-1987 Claudette MacKay-Lassonde served as the first woman president of the Association of Professional Engineers Ontario (APEO). From 1987-1988 she was a member of the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, and from 1988-1990 was chair of the Canadian Engineering Manpower Board. In 1991, she became Ontario Provincial Assistant Deputy Minister of Trade and International Relations.
Claudette MacKay-Lassonde was the first woman vice president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in 1987. She was also nominated to the Mississauga riding of the Ontario Liberal Party, although the Conservative representative was elected to power, in 1987. After the École Polytechnique massacre, in 1989, Dr. MacKay-Lassonde founded the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (CEMF) to provide scholarship opportunities for promising young female engineering students—an initiative that continues today.
Claudette MacKay-Lassonde’s career also spanned senior positions within organizations such as Ontario Hydro, (manager of the Load Forecasting Department), Northern Telecom, Xerox and Enghouse systems (Chair and CEO), Firelight Investments (president), AGF Group of Funds, Abitibi-Price, Clearnet Communications and Les Laboratories Aeterna.
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Carrefour de l’actualité. “École Polytechnique de Montréal Inaugurates Its Lassonde Buildings, the First ‘Sustainable Buildings’ Erected by an Educational Institution in Québec - A $104.9-Million Investment,” October 4, 2005. https://www.polymtl.ca/carrefour-actualite/en/news/ecole-polytechnique-de-montreal-inaugurates-its-lassonde-buildings-first-sustainable-buildings
Carstairs, Catherine, and Nancy Janovicek. Feminist History in Canada: New Essays on Women, Gender, Work, and Nation. UBC Press, 2013.
CEMF_Admin. “Doctoral Awards.” Text, October 18, 2018. https://www.cemf.ca/en/doctoral-awards.
“Claudette MacKay-Lassonde.” In Wikipedia, edited October 2, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Claudette_MacKay-Lassonde&oldid=981404630.
“Honorary Degree Citation - Claudette MacKay-Lassonde*.” Accessed October 15, 2020. https://www.concordia.ca/content/concordia/en/offices/archives/honorary-degree-recipients/1996/06/claudette-mackay-lassonde.html
Kneisel, Sophie. “Pioneer for Women.” Canadian Consulting Engineer (blog). Accessed October 15, 2020. https://www.canadianconsultingengineer.com/features/pioneer-for-women/.
Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. “A Timeline of Trailblazers • Ontario Society of Professional Engineers,” October 1, 2018. https://ospe.on.ca/community/timeline-of-trailblazers/
“Pierre Lassonde & Janelle Vine Married, Joint Family Tree & History - FameChain.” Accessed October 15, 2020. https://www.famechain.com/family-tree/17500/pierre-lassonde/janelle-vine.
Pierre Lassonde Married Relationship facts Janelle Vine. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://www.famechain.com/family-tree/17500/pierre-lassonde/janelle-vine
“Saint Mary’s University | Claudette MacKay-Lassonde.” Accessed October 15, 2020. https://smu.ca/academics/archives/claudette-mackay-lassonde.html.