Claire Deschênes, C.M.

Québec, Quebec

Claire Deschênes is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for women in science and engineering. She is the first woman to have taught engineering at Université Laval. She also created a specialized laboratory in her field, the Hydraulic Machines Laboratory (LAMH), as well as a consortium bringing together academics and industry partners. Ms. Deschênes plays a leading role in enhancing the expertise of the scientific community and in training future professionals. She also founded three international organizations that promote women in science and engineering.

Quick Facts

  • Ms. Deschênes chose engineering because she wanted a stable profession that suited her character—she likes organizing, understanding and solving problems.
  • She works tirelessly to promote women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers and co-founded three not-for-profit organizations: the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES), the Association de la francophonie à propos des femmes en sciences, technologies, ingénierie et mathématiques (AFFESTIM) and the INWES Education and Research Institute (ERI).
  • In 1989, Ms. Deschênes founded the Hydraulic Machines Laboratory at Université Laval, which is known worldwide for its research on hydraulic turbines.
  • She has received numerous awards and grants throughout her career, including one of the 2014 Synergy Awards for Innovation presented by NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).

Throughout my career, I have fully embraced my position as a role model for women in science and engineering. I have also worked to attract more women to these professions, having understood that it was important for equality, innovation and development in Canada. I was deeply moved to receive the Order of Canada, because it means that Canada is recognizing both my contributions as a pioneering woman in engineering and my academic involvement in developing hydroelectricity in Canada.

Claire Deschênes, C.M. – Professor of Mechanical Engineering