Going Forward: Women’s Role in All Things Nuclear

Going Forward: Women’s Role in All Things Nuclear

IAEA General Conference

Women in All Things Nuclear � The Way Forward

The side event on Women in All Things Nuclear – The Way Forward addressed the roles and opportunities that women can have in the nuclear sector in areas such as nuclear law, regulation, technology, policy, diplomacy and management. (Photo: C. Hofilena/IAEA)

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On the second day of the 58th IAEA General Conference, IAEA Deputy Director General, and Head of the Department of Management, together with representatives of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), Women in Nuclear (WIN) and the International Network for Emerging Nuclear Specialists (INENS), organized the second round table discussion on Women in All Things Nuclear – the Way Forward.

This early morning event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and France to the IAEA, and also saw the participation of Angela Kane, the United Nations (UN) High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Allison M. Macfarlane, Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the IAEA Resident Representatives from France, Philippines, the United Kingdom; and eminent experts in the field of nuclear science and technology.

The round table event was moderated by Laura Rockwood, a former IAEA staff member, who is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. In her introductory remarks, Ms Rockwood focused on the roles and opportunities for women in areas such as nuclear law, regulation, technology, policy, diplomacy and management.

IAEA Deputy Director General Janice Dunn Lee, in welcoming the attendees, provided an overview of the good progress made since last year’s event, that included the proactive outreach efforts undertaken, such as the IAEA Division of Human Resources’ new candidate sourcing strategy which employs social media and networking tools to reach out to women in the nuclear sector; promotional activities that highlighted the work of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in health, water, nutrition and agriculture – all of which are issues of interest for women; and her passion to help “find the next Marie Curie”. Emphasizing the need for an intense and inter-disciplinary approach to achieve these objectives, Ms Dunn Lee also reiterated the importance of early education and the promotion of science and technology among young girls, who can make a difference to international peace and security in the future.

Ms Angela Kane, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, pointed to the importance that the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon places on gender balance at the UN, including his requirement that there should be at least one female candidate among three top choice candidates in every recommendation for appointment to senior posts. She also highlighted the importance given at the UN to the critical role women play in sustaining peace and security.

Other key issues raised by the participants pertained to the following:

  • The use of social media to generate women’s interest in developing a career in the field of nuclear science and technology;
  • Encouraging young girls and mentoring them to take the challenge in a field of expertise that they tend to avoid;
  • Having programmes that would raise the confidence of women that they are competent to work in law, management, policy, diplomacy, as well as in scientific and technical fields in the nuclear sector;
  • The role of IAEA Member States and other key stakeholders in being more supportive and energetic in promoting opportunities for women and emerging specialists; and
  • Encouragement (from a male participant) for women to help build a pipeline of support and to “interfere” in the process when it is noticed that young females are losing an academic and a professional interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Round table participants agreed to proactively continue to strengthen and cement their outreach efforts among women to raise awareness about the benefits of nuclear sciences and technologies; to be receptive to new ideas that would enable women to move forward together with men, as equal partners in making the world a better place for future generations.

— By Aabha Dixit, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication

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