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Championing Women in Nuclear Security

26th February 2019
Championing Women in Nuclear Security

Rhonda Evans, Head of the WINS Academy, Engages the Group of Friends of Women in Nuclear

On 20 February 2019, the Head of the WINS Academy, Rhonda Evans, gave a presentation on WINS’ Gender Champion Programme to the Group of Friends of Women in Nuclear at the Australian Embassy in Vienna. This group, which consists of representatives from 30 IAEA Member States who seek to increase the participation of women in the IAEA Secretariat, is co-Chaired by Australia and Mexico.

In her presentation, Ms Evans emphasised the importance of promoting gender equality and increasing representation of women in nuclear security management. She said that international research into gender equality and women in the workforce has consistently shown that a diverse and inclusive workforce is better for everyone: shareholders, stakeholders and society in general.

Ms Evans also said that sector-specific research has revealed women are underrepresented in industries associated with the use of nuclear and other radioactive material. A current estimate is that women comprise only 20% of the nuclear workforce. This figure may be even smaller within the nuclear security workforce. Furthermore, women are significantly underrepresented in such areas as cybersecurity and defence when compared to the civil nuclear sector.

Worldwide Initiatives for Increasing the Representation of Women in Key Industries

Ms Evans noted that many initiatives worldwide are now supporting efforts to ensure a more diverse and inclusive workforce by increasing the representation of women in key industries, including the nuclear sector. A few examples include:

The UK Government’s Equality Office has published several papers addressing the gender pay gap, as well as a paper that gives employers recommendations for evidence-based actions that increase the number of female employees. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=government-equalities-office

The OECD has developed an extensive programme to encourage girls and women to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects.

A number of government organisations are targeting girls in many innovative ways to help fill the rapidly increasing need for cyber experts now and into the future. The UK National Centre for Cyber Security recently ran a poster competition specifically for girls. https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/i-spy-finalists-ncscs-cyberfirst-girls-competition

In its 2018 Annual Report, McKinsey & Company highlighted the current status of women in the corporate world and provided a road map to gender equality. McKinsey also publishes extensively on the positive impact of diversity and inclusion on the commercial bottom line. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/women-in-the-workplace-2018

Lean In, a global community dedicated to helping women achieve their ambitions, also conducts extensive research on women in the workplace.

WINS’ Gender Champions Programme

To support the greater inclusion of women in nuclear security, WINS created a Gender Champions Programme in 2018. Funded by the Governments of Canada and Norway, the programme supports key measurable outcomes in the areas where WINS is active and where the organisation can use its leverage to increase the number of women employed in the nuclear security sector.

The WINS programme capitalises on its role in certification and professional development in nuclear security management to increase the participation of women in nuclear security at all levels. It seeks to encourage larger numbers of women to enrol in the WINS Academy and become Certified Nuclear Security Professionals. Doing so will help to raise the profile of women (as well as of the men who participate in the programme) as individuals who have achieved greater levels of competence in nuclear security.

The WINS programme also seeks to increase the participation of women in WINS workshops, as well to ensure that they are invited to present as subject matter experts. A key external initiative in this regard is the creation of Brussels Binder, a growing repository of female subject matter experts who reside in the European Union—including those who specialise in nuclear security. This repository makes it easier for organisations to find highly qualified women to sit on expert panels.

In conclusion, Ms Evans noted the WINS Gender Programme will help to ensure that:

  • Employers in the sector are supportive and inclusive of women—from the trainee level to board and senior executive ranks.
  • Women gain certification in nuclear security to support their careers.
  • Women are active as experts and opinion leaders in the sector.

WINS Scholarships for Women Available

Note that WINS currently has 200 scholarships available for women over the next two years. For more information, please see  https://wins.org/gender-equality/

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