Clarification: While WISR is a first-of-its-kind network, other groups like NWRA's Women's Council have also existed in the industry for more than a decade.
- A new networking group for industry women, dubbed Women in Solid Waste and Recycling (WISR), has been launched by Diversion Strategies Owner and Principal Rachel Oster.
- Oster, with the help of her business partner Erin Merrill, developed the group for industry women to get more involved and increase personal development. "I really saw a need not only for an organization for women, but an organization that touched on all of the stakeholders involved in this industry," she said in an interview.
- Earlier this month, the group held a "kick off" event in Sacramento, CA that attracted more than 40 women from the public and private sector. Another meeting will be held in Los Angeles in June, and Oster notes that there is a massive amount of interest and support from women in other states as well.
While groups like the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) welcome women as members to their organizations, WISR is a first-of-its-kind network dedicated to increasing support and resources for industry women nationwide. Women have certainly made historical strides across waste and recycling — NWRA even honored its first female Driver of the Year at the recent WasteExpo conference — and a group like WISR will only continue to elevate the presence of women in these occupations.
Growing WISR may be a difficult task as many industry women are already paying membership fees to other associations, therefore the benefits of WISR — including events and educational opportunities — will need to be unique and intriguing. Yet by giving members leadership opportunities to eventually run their own regional chapters, WISR could have a unique pull for this demographic.
Since October 2015, Waste Dive has been highlighting the influence of industry women through a Women in Waste spotlight series. Not many of the interviewed women have mentioned an issue with industry demographics, yet it is apparent that women have made extra efforts to stand out in a male-dominated work space. As Big Truck Rental President Jeanie Dubinski said in her spotlight interview, women must "Demand to have a presence and [not] be afraid to speak your voice and sit at the table..," and that presence is exactly what WISR is accomplishing.