Education is key to increasing the representation of women in nuclear security, concluded panelists at a discussion during the Annual Meeting of the International Nuclear Security Education Network (INSEN) taking place in Vienna this week.
The 2019 Annual Meeting has gathered nearly 100 participants from 50 IAEA Member States, and for the fourth year featured a panel discussion on the role women currently play and should play in nuclear security.
“Under-representation of women in nuclear sciences and nuclear security deprives the world of the creative problem-solving that women bring to the table,” said Oum Keltoum Hakam, Chair of the Women in Nuclear Security panel. “With the issues we are facing, we cannot afford to forego 50 percent of the world’s talent.”
The panelists reiterated common challenges women continue to face in the fields of nuclear science, technology, security, safety and policy. Emerging as a universal challenge was conscious and unconscious bias, demonstrated by both men and women. According to the panelists, one of the most common assumptions, reflecting the bias, was that women do not have the technical background and experience to be leaders in this field.
“Overcoming institutional level barriers requires sustained efforts on the part of institutions to ensure that the culture of that institution is inclusive of women,” said Rhonda Evans, panelist and Head of the World Institute for Nuclear Security Academy.