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Gender equality issues in the nuclear sector

On August 19-20, 2020 in the Moscow branch of the Rosatom Technical Academy (Rosatom Tech) the first of a kind joint event was held with the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD NEA) ‘OECD NEA Virtual Mission to Russia’. On the Russian side, a delegation of ROSATOM State Corporation, headed by Director General Mr A. Likhachev, took part in the event.

Deputy Director General for International Relations of ROSATOM Mr N. Spassky and Director General of the OECD NEA Mr W. Magwood IV delivered welcoming remarks. The meeting was moderated by Mr V. Artisyuk, Counselor to the Director General of ROSATOM. The event was divided into several sessions: education and training, nuclear safety, radiological protection, gender balance, nuclear science and radioactive waste management and decommissioning. Particular attention was paid to the topic of gender equality and the empowerment of women in the nuclear industry, which is part of the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the UN agenda.

In the Rosatom Tech, the topic of gender equality is given a great attention. Head of the Moscow branch of the International Training Centre Ms A. Iunikova demonstrated the experience of conducting joint events with the OECD NEA aimed at drawing attention to gender issues and presented gender statistics of the Rosatom Tech and the National Research Nuclear University ‘MEPhI’, the leading nuclear university in Russia, prepared by a graduate of MEPhI, Ms M. Ozerina, paying special attention to the most female faculty of the university – the Institute of International Relations. It is important to note that the Rosatom Tech is in the gender balance (49% of women and 51% of men), and more women (80%) than men (20%) work in the Moscow branch of the International Training Centre.

Ms G. Bikkulova, Deputy Director General of the Rosatom Academy, and Ms A. Khaperskaya, co-founder of the Association ‘Women in the Nuclear Russia’, presented a joint speech on gender equality at ROSATOM and noted that 30% of women work at nuclear enterprises in the Russian Federation, which exceeds the average in the world (12%), and also informed about past and planned events on gender issues and the activities of the Association ‘Women in the Nuclear Russia’.

The presentation by Ms Y. Hah, Head of the Division of Radiological Protection and Human Aspects of Nuclear Safety of the OECD NEA, was of great interest to the participants. She noted that increasing the importance of gender balance in national and global policy agendas and finding paths to take substantive action in raising people’s awareness is a key objective of the OECD NEA. The speaker emphasized that due to the stereotypes in society, women rarely choose a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and even more so in nuclear science. However, diverse workforce is important. Studies show that it brings innovation and better performance overall.

Thus, there is a need for more research on the number of females at various organizational levels and job types in the nuclear sector, as well as for joint international events such as the International Mentoring Workshops in Science and Engineering.