Communications Co-Chair, WIN Awards
Winnie Shi, Chair
Chair, BC WIN Chapter
Despite the significant strides made across Canada, current statistics show that women continue to be underrepresented in the infrastructure sector, including specifically in leadership roles. While women’s contributions to the sector have been critical, in 2019, Canadian women held only 26 per cent of these jobs. Studies have repeatedly shown that diversity contributes to innovation and performance, and organizations like Women’s Infrastructure Network (WIN) are more important than ever in pushing forward the diversity agenda.
WIN’s mission is to support women to emerge as leaders in a field in which, historically, women have been underrepresented. It started from an interest expressed by women in the infrastructure industry to network with each other. It has evolved into an organization that promotes increased opportunities for women in the sector.
WIN promotes women’s contributions to the field, highlights their achievements and leadership, and consequently influences diversity policy across the industry. Its members include some of the highest-profile women and men in the industry, representing a diverse group across the entire infrastructure spectrum. This varied group includes representatives from public agencies, equity sponsors, infrastructure and pension funds, commercial and investment banks, law firms, financial, technical and insurance advisory firms, engineering and construction firms, and operations and maintenance providers.
With over 2,700 members across Canada in its Toronto, British Columbia, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, and Saskatchewan chapters and a connection to other Women’s Infrastructure Network organizations globally, WIN creates a strong network of contacts to foster networking and the exchange of ideas to support women take leadership roles in shaping the infrastructure agenda.
The organization, through each of its chapters, hosts local networking and community events and in-person and online seminars throughout the year that address critical infrastructure issues such as construction disputes, aboriginal reconciliation efforts, emerging and innovative procurement and contracting models, and government funding programs and profiles specific project case studies and hosts site visits.
WIN is proud of its highly recognized National WIN Awards Program that spotlights female leaders across the country. This phenomenally successful program has been held annually since 2015 and, over the years, has resulted in over 300 nominations of exceptional women across the country from all disciplines. This program has been instrumental in changing the industry view of women leaders and has served as a catalyst for change in the industry. This year, Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, won the 2022 Outstanding Leader Award. Claire Seaborn, Chief of Staff to the Minister of National Resources and Monique Lal, Director of Project Delivery at RAM, jointly won the 2022 Emerging Leader Award.
WIN members acknowledge the importance of mentoring as an effective way to increase gender diversity in the workplace. In 2019, WIN developed the WeWIN Outreach Program with strong industry backing to further support women’s career development. This program of professional development and mentorship was designed to encourage young women to remain in the industry, to assume leadership positions, and to have viable and rewarding careers.
This year WIN was also very proud to fund a scholarship at the University of Alberta for a student who identifies as a woman who is First Nations, Inuit, or Métis person of Canada, potentially pursuing a career in an infrastructure-related field. This scholarship is one of the ways WIN is looking to both give back by recognizing and supporting the importance of intersectional diversities in the infrastructure space.