Tag Archives: WONDER

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CNA recognized for its commitments to Equal By 30

Last week the Equal by 30 campaign released Balance Means Business, a compilation of stories highlighting how the energy sector is working toward improving gender balance. The publication was launched at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM10) in Vancouver, BC, May 27-29, 2019.

The compilation explores a number of ways that women are being encouraged to succeed within a traditionally male-dominated industry. Women currently represent only 22% of the energy sector compared to about 32% in renewable energy and 48% in the economy overall.

Equal By 30 is a public commitment by organizations to realize equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women in the clean energy sector by 2030. A signatory of Equal By 30, the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) has long been a supporter of gender balance.

Currently meeting and exceeding many of its Equal by 30 commitments, the CNA was pleased to be featured in the booklet which showcases several of the actions that the association is taking to promote gender equality.

Some of these actions include a recent contribution to the development of WONDER, a play about Canada’s first female nuclear physicist, Harriett Brooks, and sponsorship of the WiN-Canada Pioneer Scholarship awarded annually to women studying nuclear science and engineering.

Another action is facilitating an all-women panel of top nuclear regulators from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom at CNA’s 2019 conference.

Moreover, the CNA regularly produces videos and infographics, and participates in events that encourage women to pursue careers in the nuclear industry, believing that diversity and inclusivity are key components to solving the energy and environmental challenges of our time.

The CNA entry can be found on pages 14-15.

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Harriet Brooks’ great-great niece to inspire next generation of women in science

Canada’s first female nuclear physicist Harriet Brooks

Harriet Brooks was the first Canadian female nuclear physicist, who worked as a graduate student with Sir Ernest Rutherford at McGill University around the beginning of the 20th century.

She was among the first persons to discover radon and to try to determine its atomic mass.

Well known in Canadian nuclear circles, Brooks is not a household name like Marie Curie, under whose supervision Brooks briefly worked.

While Canadian Nuclear Laboratories recently named a nuclear research laboratory at Chalk River in her name and she is a member of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, she hasn’t made an impact in the non-academic and non-science culture like Curie, who was honoured, for example, with a Google Doodle on the anniversary of her birth.

Now, 85 years after she passed away, one of her descendants is trying to bring her story to life on stage.

WONDER is a stage production in development about the gender barriers faced by Brooks. It is the first play written by Canadian actor Ellen Denny, Brooks’ great-great-niece.

“With this project, I hope to honour the countless women in science who have been silenced, and invigorate those who continue the fight for gender equity,” says Denny.

“It is also an important goal of mine to connect this historical science story and play of Harriet Brooks with the contemporary science community.”

Opening of the Harriet Brooks building at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

Brooks left the world of physics at the peak of her career upon marriage to assume the occupation of wife and mother.

In an interview with Maclean’s magazine, Geoff Rayner-Canham, a chemistry professor at Newfoundland’s Memorial University who has written about Brooks, explained why she left the science community.

“What happened was that she got engaged to a physicist at Barnard College, which is an old women’s college in the States, and she told the dean she was planning to marry. The dean sent a letter back saying that she was not willing to have anyone in the department who put her work second, but didn’t think it was appropriate for a married woman to put her career before her family.”

While what happened to Brooks could be attributed to social mores at the time, Denny believes her story is relevant to the barriers that still exist for women today who balance career with family.

Canadian actress Ellen Denny

In a slick video on her Kickstarter campaign page she launched to fund the production, Denny lists some current stats on gender and science. For example, in 2010, just 12.4 per cent of physics faculty at Canadian universities were women and only 30 per cent of female high school students take physics, compared to 60 per cent of male high school students.

“The play WONDER is a chance to build a bridge between the science and arts communities, and to spark discussion about how to build workplaces with equitable opportunity for all,” she explains.

The reaction to Denny’s project has been positive so far. Her Kickstarter campaign to fund a workshop of the play has raised over $2,000, almost triple her original goal.

Before WONDER is ready for its premiere production it needs some time in the lab – in theatre this is called a “workshop.” One week of in-studio script development and physical exploration with a team of professional artists is slated for early 2019 and Denny is hard at work raising funds for this critical next step.

You can follow along with the development of WONDER on Twitter and #WonderThePlay.