The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) – in collaboration with the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) – helped inspire nearly 30 young women to continue their studies and consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at a mentoring event on International Women’s Day (March 8).
A group of female sixth-formers from four schools and colleges in Birmingham and Derby were able to meet and learn from industry experts through a series of workshops and interactive sessions.
The mentors included leading global nuclear experts: the NEA’s Director-General William D. Magwood IV, Chief Science and Technical Officer at National Nuclear Laboratories, Fiona Rayment, and other leading industry figures from the UK, France, Germany, Romania and the USA.
Attendees were also sent a video message from Hélène Langevin-Joliot, a distinguished nuclear physicist and grand-daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie.
The nuclear sector faces a significant skills challenge in the coming decades as it seeks to attract and retain talent. This event was opening up the range of STEM-related careers available to young women, in order to help meet the sector’s wider goals of diversifying its workforce and encouraging innovation.
The event also coincides with the publication of a new report by the NEA, which identifies a lack of women in senior leadership roles and argues that the gender imbalance puts net zero targets in danger. The report includes the first publicly available international data on gender balance in the sector, based on data from 8,000 women in 32 countries worldwide.
Director-General Magwood said: “When it comes to human capacity, one issue on which we all have to come together is to make sure that women in all countries have an equal opportunity to rise to leadership positions within the nuclear energy sector.”
Director-General of Net Zero, Nuclear and International at DESNZ, Lee McDonough, said: “A way to solve the skills challenge is by creating a more diverse, inclusive and skilled workforce in the nuclear sector. The UK government will continue to work with the industry to achieve these important objectives and is committed to promoting opportunities for women and underrepresented groups in the sector.”