President & CEO, Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE)
With one of Canada’s fastest-growing industries being clean energy, advancing the role and recognition of women in the energy sector is crucial in order to continue attracting top talent into an industry filled with opportunity.
Unleashing the power of women in the energy sector is the mission of Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE), which was launched in 2013 President & CEO Joanna Osawe. Now a national and international organization in its sixth year, the non-profit is run by volunteers to provide programming such as educational field trips, monthly networking meetings, an awards recognition program, student bursaries, speed mentoring, blogs, working with indigenous communities and communications and engagement initiatives.
Inclusive of all renewable energy technologies, WiRE engages thousands of people per month and to enable more women to advance throughout the sectors. “Many companies are stepping up, specifically power producers, saying, ‘yes, we want women to have the same opportunities that men have.’” said Osawe. “From an executive standpoint, I think that there is a lot of work to be done to ensure the dynamic of conversation is being upheld. I believe that everyone should have a seat at the table.”
WiRE’s programs aid students and emerging professionals looking to seek employment in the industry. Since the beginning of the mentoring program, WiRE has been able to marry over 70 people to various – jobs in the industry and are committed to pushing for the EHRC Leadership Accord on Gender Diversity & the #Equalby30 Campaign – equal opportunity, equal pay and equal leadership for women in the energy industry by 2030.
President, Women in Nuclear (WiN)
The landscape in the nuclear industry is rapidly changing and presents unique opportunities for women. When we look at the effects of climate change, we need to look at solutions. Nuclear power presents a safe, carbon-free, reliable and affordable solution. Nuclear is helping Ontario and Canada reach our GHG targets. Canada is a long-time leader in nuclear energy research and development, dating back to the 1940’s. The employment possibilities in nuclear are endless, with the nuclear industry in Canada employing more than 76,000 people and contributing more than $17 billion to the GDP in the Canadian economy.
In addition, the Canadian nuclear industry makes a major contribution to our economy and society over and above the amazing benefits of clean energy. The industry in Canada is unique because it covers the full fuel cycle, uranium mining, power generation, nuclear research, industrial and medical applications and nuclear waste storage and disposal.
Canada also hosts most of its own supply chain partners. The nuclear industry in Canada is also making progress on deploying Small Modular Reactors, which is yet another way nuclear can provide Canada with clean, reliable energy. SMRs are a way for the nuclear industry to complement renewables, to meet the growing demand, while supporting climate change and environmental objectives. SMRs can be effective in helping meet Canada’s energy demands specifically in the heavy industry and mining sector, to reduce the use of diesel fuels. SMRs present a sound source of low-carbon energy. Canada is also a world leader in isotope production, providing more than 60% of the world’s isotopes. And on top of all of that, the nuclear sector in Canada consistently finds ways to innovate and bring new technology into the industry.
Vice Chair, Skills Ontario & President, Promation Nuclear
With the first of four of Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington Refurbishments basically completed and the planned refurbishment of Bruce Power’s six reactors starting in January 2020, there are literally decades of skilled trades work in the coming future. These two projects are the largest infrastructure initiatives currently underway in our nation, requiring over 20,000 workers, and they set the foundation for a sustainable transition to a truly green energy supply mix in Ontario.
Additionally, Ontario is quickly becoming a global leader in the rapidly-growing medical isotope market, thanks to innovations at our nuclear generating stations. The skilled jobs that are needed to support this growing area are another wonderful opportunity in the nuclear industry.
Accordingly, the opportunity for under-represented demographics — such as youth, women, and Indigenous people — to begin a career in the skilled trades through these projects is tremendous. Moreover, the nuclear environment and culture are especially mature in their appreciation and engagement of women in the industry, supported by associations like Women in Nuclear (WiN), so it’s an ideal time for young women to begin a skilled trade career in the nuclear industry.
Simply put, now is the perfect time to enter the nuclear industry, where the youth of today can take pride in knowing they’re playing a key part in building our nation’s low-carbon future and helping supply the world with life-saving, cancer-fighting medical isotopes.