Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Addressing the biggest challenges of our time, such as climate change and satisfaction of ever-more growing energy needs, requires more technical specialists, scientists, and engineers – utmost of the world’s potential for boosting science and technology. Nuclear energy plays a particularly important role in combating global warming and providing sustainable energy supply. Therefore, attracting more women into careers in the nuclear field, and building up the favorable conditions and prospects to support their professional development is an essential goal that many international organizations are pursuing.
The Nuclear Energy Agency – a specialised agency within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA) is working with its members to raise awareness on gender issues and explore new and creative approaches to improve gender balance in the nuclear science and STEM-related fields (STEM – Science, Technology, Еngineering, Мathematics).
The gender balance issues were brought into focus at the Rosatom Technical Academy (former Central Institute for Continuing Education and Training) back in May 2016 when top managers of OECD/NEA – Ms Yeonhee Hah, Head of the Division of Radiological Protection & Human Aspects of Nuclear Safety and Mr Ho Nieh, Head of the Division of Nuclear Safety Regulation and Technology visited Rosatom Tech to discuss potential areas of cooperation.
In the line of cooperation with OECD/NEA, Rosatom Technical Academy regularly participates in the meetings of the Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF), established within OECD/NEA, exploring the impacts of national context on nuclear safety culture.
In support of efforts to diminish under-representation of women in science and technology fields, on 28 May 2020 the NEA hosted a live discussion “NEA WebChat: How do we encourage more women to enter the nuclear science and technology field?”, bringing together young professionals and key leaders in the nuclear field from around the world. Ms Anastasiia Zherebilova, Project Manager at the Rosatom Tech’s International Training Center for Nuclear Infrastructure, participated in the Young Generation Panel, chaired by Dr Fiona Rayment (Executive Director of the UK National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) Nuclear Innovation and Research Office), together with young nuclear professionals from Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. Young speakers shared their experiences in the nuclear field and discussed the main challenges young women face entering STEM-related professions. Anastasiia’s participation in the event was supported by Rosatom Corporate Academy, Foundation for women`s initiatives supporting and development «Union of women in nuclear» and Private institution of Atomic Energy Power Corporation «Rusatom International Network».
“Every project that I have accomplished helps me realize that I was right in the career choice I have made. … To enable my professional eminence, nuclear has done for me a lot already – and now I feel like it’s my turn to be giving back to it. To enable my success and realisation as a human being living in a clean and sustainable world, where everyone has access to energy, the nuclear industry just needs to be”, – noted Anastasiia.
The Young Generation Panel was followed by a Leadership Panel chaired by NEA Director-General Mr William D. Magwood, IV, and featuring executives of regulatory, industry, and research organisations from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In the final part of the WebChat, all speakers took part in a live discussion with the public and explored how governments, research bodies, and the private sector can help improve the representation of women in all spheres on the nuclear sector. The WebChat was attended by the close to 300 participants, from 38 countries around the world.
The video recording of this WebChat will be available in the coming days – https://www.oecd-nea.org
Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) membership consists of 33 countries representing 80% of the world’s installed nuclear electricity generating capacity. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co-operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally sound and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It strives to provide authoritative assessments and to forge common understandings on key issues as input to government decisions on nuclear energy policy and to broader OECD analyses in areas such as energy and the sustainable development of low‑carbon economies. The information, data, and analyses it provides draw on one of the best international networks of technical experts.
The Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF) is a working group established within the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) of the OECD/NEA, as forum for facilitating the exchange of ideas and experience in the field of nuclear safety between the 33 member states of the OECD/NEA. The main mission of the WGHOF is to improve the understanding and treatment of human and organisational factors within the nuclear industry in order to support the continued safety performance of nuclear installations, and improve the effectiveness of regulatory practices, in OECD/NEA member countries.