Women of Impact

Women of Impact – Celebrating women’s achievements in science and engineering


The Project (COM 2015)

The project Women of Impact in the Canadian Mining, Metallurgy, and Materials Field aims to recognize and document the experiences and accomplishments of leading women in mining, metallurgy, and materials in Canada and to disseminate their inspiring stories through a symposium at COM 2015 and through a book (print and electronic), documenting the oral histories and lives of these women and their careers.

The persistent underrepresentation of women in engineering and science is particularly significant and even more apparent in the field of mining, metallurgy, and materials. According to the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada, women represented approximately 15% of workers in materials and metallurgy. According to a 2010 report by Women in Mining (WIM) Canada, at 14.4%, the representation of women in mining and exploration is the lowest amongst primary industry categories in Canada.

Women of Impact_Panel discussion at COM 2015

Women of Impact_Panel discussion at COM


Mining, metallurgy, and materials are vibrant and dynamic industries in Canada. It is essential that these industries attract talent with great and varied skills; therefore, it is all the more significant women continue to be underutilized and underrepresented. It is imperative these industries practice purposeful female recruitment, encourage and promote the entry of women into these fields, and nurture female careers.

The impact of female leaders in mining, metallurgy, and materials is still unrecorded. Through these oral history interviews, the symposium, and the publication of a final manuscript, this project will build the collective and individual memories of some of the women in this field.

Some of the presentations are available free for viewing. Click here to view these inspiration talks!

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Women of Impact_Book

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Based on in-person interviews, this collection profiles eighteen women who have made significant contributions to the fields of materials, metallurgy, and mining in Canada. Their compelling stories and impressive achievements reveal how women have defied stereotypes, pushed through barriers, and passionately engaged with their industry.

Featured Women (biographies below) include: Ursula Franklin, Carolyn Hansson, Nean Allman, Indira Samarasekera, Lucy Rosato, Louise Grondin, Jennifer Jackman, Mary Ruggiero, Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin, Maureen Jensen, Susan Knoerr, Pearl Sullivan, Janice Zinck, Annette Bergeron, Eva Carissimi, Liana Centomo, Priti Wanjara, Zoe Yujnovich.

Authors: Anne Millar and Mary Wells

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Picture courtesy of Mark Balson, University of Toronto (2013)


Born Ursula Martius on September 16, 1921, in Munich, Germany

Education Ph.D., experimental physics, Technical University of Berlin (1948)

Field Metallurgy

Ursula Franklin is a renowned metallurgist, physicist, educator, and activist. She has taught and researched extensively in the field of materials science and is an expert in the structure of metals and alloys. She is best known for her extensive writing on the social impact of technology and for her role in developing the field of archaeometry. As a pioneering woman in the field of metallurgy and a public intellectual, Ursula has inspired countless young women both within and outside STEM fields.

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Born Carolyn Russell on March 15, 1941, in Hazel Grove, Cheshire, England

Education B.Sc., engineering, Imperial College, London University (1961); Ph.D., physical metallurgy, Imperial College, London University (1966)

Field Metallurgy/Materials

Carolyn Hansson was the first female student in the Royal School of Mines at Imperial College, London University, and the first woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in metallurgy from the same institution. She has worked in the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, and Canada in the industrial, academic, and not-for-profit sectors. Carolyn is currently a professor of materials engineering, cross-appointed in the Departments of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. She is an expert in the field of corrosion of steel in concrete.

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Born Norah Jean Allman on October 25, 1942, in Edinburgh, Scotland

Education B.Sc., geology, University of Edinburgh (1964)

Field Mining

Nean Allman is a geologist and currently the principal at Allman & Associates Corporate Communications, a Toronto-based communications consulting company she founded in 1988. She served as the first female president of the Geological Association of Canada (GAC). She was the first female reporter and the first geologist on staff at the Northern Miner, a weekly mining newspaper. Nean continues to be an active promoter of women in mining.

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Picture courtesy of the University of Alberta (2012)


Born Indira Vasanti Arulpragasam on April 11, 1952, in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Education B.Sc., mechanical engineering, University of Ceylon (1974); M.Sc., mechanical engineering, University of California, Davis (1976); Ph.D., metallurgical engineering, University of British Columbia (1980)

Field Metallurgy

 Indira Samarasekera is one of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers. She was the first woman in Sri Lanka to become a mechanical engineer, the first female professor in the Department of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and the first female president of the Metallurgy and Materials Society (MetSoc) of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM). From 2005 to 2015, Indira served as president of the University of Alberta; she was the first woman and the first engineer to hold this position.

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Born Lucy Ilena Centomo in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

lived May 11, 1953 – April 30, 2011

Education B.Sc., chemistry, Concordia University (1975)

Field Metallurgy

Lucy Rosato was the first female general manager, president, and CEO of Canadian Electrolytic Zinc Limited (CEZinc), the third-largest zinc refinery in the Western world. A distinguished Canadian hydrometallurgist with a background in chemistry, she is best known amongst the metallurgical community for her role in the development of the Jarofix process. In 2013, an undergraduate scholarship for women in science and engineering was established in Lucy’s name in honour of her dedication to the promotion of women in her field.

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Born Louise Grondin on June 26, 1953, in Saint-Nazaire-de-Berry, Quebec, Canada

Education B.Sc., physics, University of Ottawa (1978); M.Sc., meteorology, McGill University (1980); P.Eng. qualification, mechanical engineering, University of Toronto (1984)

Field Mining

A self-described problem solver, Louise Grondin has a background in physics and mechanical engineering and more than thirty years of experience in environmental assessment and management. She is currently the senior vice-president of environment and sustainable development at Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world. Louise is a pioneering leader in her field and passionate about ensuring that environmental issues and community concerns are prioritized in the Canadian mining industry.

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Picture courtesy of Jian Li (2012)


Born Jennifer Aline Thompson on January 15, 1954, in Trail, British Columbia, Canada

Education B.Sc., biophysics, University of Guelph (1976); M.Sc., physics, University of Guelph (1977); Ph.D., condensed matter physics, University of Guelph (1983)

Field Metallurgy/Materials

Jennifer Jackman, or Jenny to her friends and colleagues, is a recently retired physicist with more than thirty years of experience working in government research facilities. For most of her career, she worked for CanmetMATERIALS (CMAT), Canada’s principal federal R&D laboratory for research in metals and materials, starting as a specialist in materials characterization and later establishing programs on materials for manufactured products. She was CMAT’s director general from 2000 to 2013, managing the laboratory’s relocation from Ottawa to Hamilton and the construction of its new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum research facility.

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Picture courtesy of the University of Toronto (2012)


Born Mary Volpe on February 1, 1954, in Monteleone di Puglia, Italy

Education B.A.Sc., engineering science, University of Toronto (1977); M.A.Sc., materials science, University of Toronto (1979); Ph.D., materials science, University of Toronto (1983)

Field Materials

Mary Ruggiero is currently vice-president of R&D at Datec Coating Corporation. She has more than thirty years of experience in new product development, project management, industrial R&D, and engineering design. Mary has a Ph.D. in materials science and is an expert in coatings, solidification processing, and joining processes. She is a dedicated University of Toronto alumna and cares passionately about promoting women in her field.

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Born Cynthia Le Sueur on November 24, 1954, in Johannesburg, South Africa

Education B.Sc., industrial engineering, Witwatersrand Technikon (1977)

Field Mining

Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin is an industrial engineer with more than thirty-eight years of experience in the mining industry, including over fifteen years spent in project management, development and management, and sands and slimes recovery and processing sites in mines in Johannesburg, South Africa. An expert in project management, technical management, and capital administration, she is currently the president and CEO of Laurion Mineral Exploration Incorporated. Since 2014, she has been a director at Women in Mining (WIM) Canada.

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Picture courtesy of the Ontario Securities Commission (2012)


Born Maureen Wehnde on April 9, 1956, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Education B.Sc., geology, University of Toronto (1979)

Field Mining

Maureen Jensen is a highly skilled senior business executive with a background in geology and twenty years of experience in the mining industry. She is cu