Cheryl Cottrill, the national Executive Director of Women in Nuclear (WiN), was recently presented the CNS/CNA Education and Communication Award for her role in educating women and the public in general about the benefits of nuclear energy, while advancing female interest in careers in the fields of science and technology.
Cheryl is also active in the GIRLS Science Club and Camps, held at the Bruce Power Visitors Centre during school breaks. On top of that, she is also a key player in the partnership between Skills-Canada Ontario and WiN that promotes the advancement of women in skilled trades and technology careers.
We caught up with Cheryl recently to congratulate her on her recent accolades for her outreach and education efforts, and find out what is next for this nuclear energy and technology advocate.
[TalkNUclear:] Congratulations, Cheryl. It’s great to see you recognized by the industry for your outreach work. Was the award a surprise?
[Cheryl:] It certainly was. Unbeknownst to me, my board nominated me for the award. When I received the email announcing that I was receiving the award I had to read it four times before it sunk in.
[TalkNUclear:] Do you feel this recognition is important in highlighting the impact of women in skills and technology trades, such as those in the nuclear industry?
[Cheryl:] Women make up almost 50% of today’s workforce, are earning more than 50% of university degrees, but only make up approximately 20% of the nuclear industry. Most of those careers are in administrative and clerical functions. When you start talking about skilled trades, technologies and leadership positions the numbers quickly fall to single digits. Women are making tremendous contributions to the industry, but it can be difficult to be recognized and heard in a very male-dominated industry. This recognition helps bring attention to the valuable contribution women are making to the industry and why the work that WiNners are doing to encourage more girls into these STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and skilled trade careers is so important to the industry’s future.
[TalkNUclear:] Who would you like to see win the award next year?
[Cheryl:] I’d love to see a new innovative education or communication program that would utilize new media and really drive the message of the positive benefits of our industry. I believe our industry should do a much better job talking about the positive contribution we make to society. It would be great to see someone who accomplishes that goal win the award next year.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of our chat with Cheryl. She’ll let us know what is coming up at WiN and share her thoughts on the European Commission’s recent efforts to attract girls to STEM careers.