Tag Archives: Cheryl Cottrill

Guest Blog

Getting Girls Energized about Science and Engineering

By Cheryl Cottrill
Executive Director

WiN-Canada (Women in Nuclear) hosted Camp GEMS (Girls in Engineering Math and Science) for two full day March Break camps last week at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre.  The sessions are meant to provide a fun, hands-on experience, using science, math and engineering principles, with a female mentor who has been successful in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.  It’s done to awaken a life-long passion for science and ignite scientific curiosity, so campers will ask intelligent questions around issues like climate change and energy options, and possibly go on to study STEM subjects post-secondary.  In Canada, only an estimated 21% of students enrolled in applied science and engineering are women.

Day one’s theme, All in a Bug’s Life, centered on insects and taught the 25 girls attending about different types and characteristics of insects. They learned about the two types of metamorphosis, a process of dramatic change in a body form during a lifespan, which can be complete or incomplete.  Day two’s theme, Enzymes – Step on it! took the girls through two experiments: Jello Meets Pineapple, to see how the pineapple, acting as an enzyme on the jello substrate, changed the ability of the jello to set and an experiment using controlled quantities of raw potatoes immersed in hydrogen peroxide to initiate a chemical reaction.

These events are hosted by Women in Nuclear and have become well known and supported in the community. This energizing and welcomed approach to engaging young women into science, technology, engineering and math is creating a pathway for their future endeavours, and should help to bring more young Canadians into the excellent careers offered by our nuclear industries.

Nuclear Education Nuclear Outreach Nuclear Pride

Cottrill Wins Education and Communication Award (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of our chat with CNS/CNA Education and Communication Award WiNner, Women-in-Nuclear Canada (WiN) Executive Director, Cheryl Cottrill. Cheryl is a passionate advocate for Canada’s nuclear industry and all of the many benefits our community brings to Canada and the world – such as low-carbon stable baseload electricity generation, important R&D for health and safety in many sectors like the auto, food, and health industries, and life-saving nuclear medical technologies.

Read part one about Cheryl’s Award and advocacy here.

[TalkNUclear:] What is next for you as Executive Director of WiN?

[Cheryl:] Our annual conference October 24-26 is my main focus at the moment. WiN-Bruce is hosting this year. The conference will focus on professional development, something women don’t generally take the time to work on as much as they probably should. By the time delegates leave the conference they will have the foundation of a career plan to further develop with the knowledge they have garnered throughout the conference. You can find more information about the conference at www.wincanada.org.

We have our second GIRLS (Girls in Real Life Science) Science Camp next week and we are partnering with the PWU (Power Workers Union) and NAYGN (North American Young Generation Nuclear) in two Skills Work! Summer Camps for Grades 7 & 8 in August.

Cheryl Cottrill (C) of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Bruce, helps Sarita Ahmed (L), 11, of Port Elgin, and Amanda Stuart, 10, of Kincardine in designing the perfect hot chocolate cup at the Girls Engineering Math Science (GEMS) Camp. Photo credit: The Saugeen Times

[TalkNUclear:] What can the industry do better to promote an appreciation of the benefits of nuclear technology?

[Cheryl:] We need to do a better job bragging about our accomplishments. We provide clean, reliable, baseload power to Canada, which powers our hospitals, schools, nursing homes, businesses and our homes. Our industry is also responsible for the production of isotopes and Cobalt 60, which are used in medical applications throughout the world to save many lives each day. This is all a very good news story that we need to shout from the rooftops. We have some of the brightest minds in Canada working in our industry and we need to do a better job of recognizing these people and celebrate successes throughout the industry.

[TalkNUclear:] On the topic of “advancing female interest in careers in the fields of science and technology,” do you have an opinion about the recent campaign by the European Commission called “Science, it’s a girl thing”?

[Cheryl:] First off, I’m sure their hearts were in the right place trying to do a video campaign that would appeal to 13-17 year old girls, but I believe that challenging stereotypes by using stereotypes, is misguided and not at all effective.

If I were a woman working in a science career I believe I’d be completely offended by the fluff and cuteness of this video. I doubt any female scientist goes to work in a mini-skirt and 3” heels.

Science is indeed a girl thing, but we need to promote this by providing girls with role models of women who have chosen STEM careers and are making positive contributions to society. That is what girls really want from careers today. They want a career where they can make the world a better place and where better to do that than through science. Providing girls with female role models, showing them how science connects to their world in a fun hands-on approach will help foster a life-long love of science.

Thanks, Cheryl. We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations again!

If you have a good story to share with the TalkNUclear.ca readers, please email TalkNUclear@cna.ca. We love featuring the excellent work and passion of our nuclear family.

Nuclear Education Nuclear Outreach Nuclear Pride

Cottrill Wins Education and Communication Award

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.

Cheryl Cottrill, Executive Director of Women in Nuclear (WiN), with her CNS/CNA Award. Photo courtesy of Bruce Power.

[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.