President, WiN Canada and Country Leader, Small Modular Reactors, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
Lisa McBride, President of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Canada, discusses how the association promotes career interest in nuclear among women and young Canadians and the significance of nuclear energy.
Why is it important for women and young people to be involved in the nuclear industry?
One of our greatest challenges in the industry today is the very lean representation of women in the employee population. Women represent only about 22 per cent of the workforce in the nuclear industry. The fact of the matter is diversity brings improved operational and financial performance, greater innovation, better group performance, and an enhanced reputation for the company.
With Women in Nuclear (WiN) Canada, we’re committed to highlighting and supporting women in the industry, providing leadership development programs and initiatives, and being the voice for our members with industry leaders. This includes supporting our members in their pursuit of professional development and helping the organizations within our membership achieve gender balance.
How is Women in Nuclear Canada promoting career interest in nuclear among women and young people?
We’ve launched several programs to not only support the success of women in nuclear but also create a positive impact on the industry in Canada. This includes our leadership development program EmPOWERed Women: Taking the Stage, which was recently offered in March 2022. This program enables women to view leadership through the lens of communication — supporting them in developing the skills needed to be seen as strong, confident leaders. It was an enormous success, with three full cohorts of women participating in our six-week program, and our goal is to launch more cohorts in the very near future.
WiN Canada also has a formal Mentorship Program with over 140 active participants. Our mentoring program offers members the opportunity to engage across the industry to develop both personally and professionally. Our program welcomes members at all stages of their careers and students preparing to enter the workforce. This program officially ended in June 2022, and another will launch in fall 2022.
WiN Canada has redesigned its Speakers Clearinghouse, which will be ready for launch in the coming months. This is an outreach initiative that uses the talent and expertise of its members while increasing its outreach through a Speakers’ Clearinghouse. This program allows WiN Canada’s subject matter experts to engage the public and local schools, especially young females, to help them better understand the benefits of the nuclear industry and the careers it provides — so that they can make an informed decision about nuclear technologies.
We also work with other organizations (including Skills Canada and Skills Ontario) to promote interest. It’s not just STEM — it’s skilled trades as well. There are lots of professional opportunities in the industry.
What do you want the public, especially women, to know about nuclear power?
As women working in the nuclear industry, we value nuclear energy’s role in a net-zero carbon future. The role of nuclear energy in Canada is critical to our success in reaching our net-zero carbon goals by 2050. The climate change crisis is real, and it’s the single greatest crisis the world faces today. Canada’s nuclear industry makes an important contribution to reducing GHG emissions, and its clean power delivers safe, reliable, and low-cost electricity that’s required by today’s advanced economy.
There’s no path to a clean energy future without nuclear energy playing a vital role in the energy mix. We owe it to our children and future generations to protect them from the risks associated with climate change. Our energy is clean, and our future is bright.