Cottrill Wins Education and Communication Award (Part 2)

July 19, 2012

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

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!

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