Nuclear engineer enters male dominated field
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Tracy Edwards is passionate about science.
In high school she discovered nuclear technology and spent her timechatting with teachers about how she could fit into the equation.
In university, she enrolled in the University of Waterloo’s engineering program and started learning about hydraulics and other aspects of the engineering craft.
“I liked the challenge of working in an industry that people didn’t think women could be in,” Edwards says. “It was weird at first to have only guys in your classes at school, but it didn’t really matter what you were as long as you had the qualifications to do the job.”
In her fourth and last year, Edwards came across a job fair for people in the nuclear engineering industry. She gave out her resumé there and by the time she graduated at the ago of 24, she was already set up with a job at Bruce Power, an independent nuclear power plant northwest of Toronto, near the shores of Lake Huron. Within weeks she was working as a system engineer – problem solving, and learning the tricks of the trade.
“When I started I was the only woman on the floor,” Edwards says. “(Working with a lot of men) is something you get used to. I wouldn’t say there are a lot of women in the field, but it is getting better.”
Susan Brissette is president of Women in Nuclear’s Canadian branch, which is part of a global network that works to give information to female engineers like Edwards.
Brissette says that less than 20 per cent of the nuclear engineering workforce is made up of women and when they are represented, they are put in administrative jobs.
“There’s a tendency for women to stick to desk jobs and human resources within the nuclear field. We want them to be able to be engineers and do the same jobs as a lot of the men do.”
At 28, Edwards is on top of the world, and she is happy with her career choice and all of the opportunities it gives her.
“A lot of girls don’t consider it because they don’t see it as a good job for women,” Edwards says. “There are so many opportunities within the nuclear field and women can take advantage of them in so many ways.”
For more on women in nuclear engineering go to www.win-global.org.