The Moscow branch of the Rosatom Technical Academy hosted the Mentoring Workshop for female students of leading Russian universities. This event brought together 30 students from National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Moscow State Institute of International Relations MGIMO. Top-professional women from the nuclear industry acted as mentors at the session and shared their knowledge, personal and professional experiences and inspiration with the students to help them figure out the difficult aspects of professional life.
Ms Nadezhda Salnikova, Head of the Department for Support of Investment Projects of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) at OKBM Afrikantov, JSC, spoke about the stereotypes she has encountered during her career. Nadezhda also talked about her dream that came true: today she is a member of the working group on SMRs from Russia. Her achievements include her performance as a speaker at a Scientific Forum held within the framework of the 67th IAEA General Conference.
Ms Lilia Dulinets, Head of the Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy, also shared her experience. She participated in all stages of the construction of the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, and now, working for the Agency, she helps countries that are developing a national nuclear energy program.
Ms Anastasia Andryushina, Head of the Project Office for Cooperation with International Organizations of the Technical Academy, told the students about her path in the nuclear industry.
"Any success story begins with small achievements, with dreams, aspirations and determination. However, the path to success always involves overcoming difficulties and setbacks. Firmness and determination are the key features that allow you to overcome obstacles on the way to your dream," - Anastasia noted.
Ms Elena Onishchuk, an expert of the educational and methodological center "Nuclear and Radiation Safety" of the Technical Academy said that today technical education helps female students find employment, build a career, and implement innovative projects. Moreover, Elena wished the students not to be afraid of the changes that are necessary for all successful professionals to develop.
Gender equality is a key aspect of the United Nations activity. Ensuring gender equality and the extension of women’s rights will make a significant contribution to both global economic development and the achievement of the goals and objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The IAEA expert, a representative of the admissions committee, spoke about programmes aimed at supporting the next generation of women in the field of nuclear science and technology. The Maria Sklodowska-Curie Scholarship Programme is designed to direct young women to realize specialties in the nuclear field. The programme is aimed at providing fellowships for obtaining an academic master's degree along with the opportunity to take a temporary job with the assistance of the IAEA. In 2023, at the initiative of IAEA Director General Mr Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Lise Meitner programme was launched for women specialists at the primary and secondary levels, aimed at developing women's work skills through a multi-week field programme, including visits to nuclear structures and specialized professional training.
Ms Milana Ozerina, former employee of the Technical Academy, talked about her experience participating in the Maria Sklodowska-Curie fellowship programme. Milana is currently undergoing an internship in the Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy.
Group work with mentors was organized for students as part of the Mentoring session. The task of each team was to solve one of the problems that women face when building careers in nuclear and STEM fields, and then present the solution to colleagues.
To get acquainted with the activities of the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation from the inside, within the framework of the Workshop, on the second day a technical visit to the JSC ELEMASH Machine-Building Plant was organized. Employees showed the participants a part of the technological process of nuclear fuel production.
"Both days were very interesting! I immediately wanted to fight further, develop and not give up! The second day we had a very interesting tour. It was an unforgettable experience to see the process of making fuel with your own eyes!" - shared Ms Daria Dushanina, a participant in the mentoring, a student at MEPhI University.
According to statistics, there are 3-4 times more men than women in the field of natural Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The scale of this disparity is approximately the same for Russia, Europe and the United States. At the same time, gender inequality in the exact and natural sciences turns out to be quite large. It starts in high school, increases at the university and ends at work.
In order to popularize STEM specialties among girls, an annual Mentoring event was organized in the format of a sustainable platform for dialogue between students of technical universities, women scientists and industrial leaders to share experiences on unlocking potential in engineering and technical professions.