Pioneers of the Canadian Space Industry

space-pioneers "IMG_7596" by wyliepoon is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


  • Linda Dyer (Concordia University)
  • Stefanie Ruel  (Concordia University)


  • SSHRC Explore grant

Back to the past

The Canadian space industry can be said to have started with the development, launch, and operation of the Alouette I and II satellites during the Cold War. The people publicly identified as being responsible for these two missions, often referred to as ‘the 100,’ are all men. We contend that many women were, and continue to be, hidden within this version of our space history. Our research seeks out the stories of the women who worked on these early space missions. Interviews with various people connected with Alouette I and II, as well as analysis of available documents, media reports, and photographs, will write these overlooked women back into history. 

We are specifically interested in how the experiences and successes of these women might provide positive role models for current and future generations. More than 50 years after the launch of Alouette I, there is a pressing need for us to acknowledge and understand the tacit knowledge and wisdom that will be lost with the aging of these women pioneers in the space industry. Central to our research is the goal of reducing the large gender gap in fields such as engineering, physics, astronomy, planetary sciences, mathematics, and computer science. Positive role models who are women can stimulate interest and self-efficacy within girls and women to enter currently male-dominated industries. We believe that our research will produce several such role models. The study is then intended to inspire present and future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-professional women, and incite them to embrace the rich historical heritage of Canadian women working in space.

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