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OECD release report on gender balance in the nuclear sector

 A new report has been released by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the first publicly available international data on gender balance in the nuclear sector. 

Released on Wednesday 8th March to mark International Women's Day, Gender Balance in the Nuclear Sector is based on data collected from over 8,000 women in the nuclear workforce in 32 countries, as well as human resources data from 96 nuclear organisations in 17 countries.

The report reveals that nearly half the women surveyed in the nuclear energy sector have experienced or heard accounts of gender bias and sexual harassment at work. The publication also highlights that women are paid less (based on limited datasets) and feel as though they lack female role models, which makes it harder for the sector to attract more female talent.

Dr Fiona Rayment FNucI, Chief Science and Technology Officer of the United Kingdom National Nuclear Laboratory was elected as Chair of the NEA Task Group that conducted the study. 

"With the ever-increasing importance of energy security while minimising carbon emissions, a solution including nuclear energy is receiving greater focus. Meeting these challenges requires a broad range of skills that can be delivered through a neuro-diverse workforce, and creating gender balance across the international nuclear sector is a key element in achieving this," said Dr Rayment. 

"I am delighted to see the launch of this report which provides the quantitative and qualitative information on the status of gender balance in nuclear internationally and the associated challenges that women face. My hope is that this report enables the sector to have a springboard to move to greater gender balance in the years ahead driving the neurodiversity the sector is craving". 

NI Survey Results on gender balance

Encouraging bright talent into the industry is a key objective for the Nuclear Institute, in order to support the challenging but much-needed targets for new nuclear power capacity in the UK. Thousands of new entrants to the nuclear workforce will be required, with representation in the nuclear industry being lower than in the UK workforce as a whole for both gender and ethnicity. This echoes the OECD report that shows that women make up only 24.9% of the nuclear sector workforce in NEA countries.

As a result, the NI conducted a Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey, which we began in 2020, to try and understand the landscape of the nuclear industry, including gender balance. 

Females made up 37% of respondents with those who were NI members being slightly lower at 36%. It was encouraging to see that the women in the industry were responsive to this survey (beyond their known level of representation) and that the gender balance in the NI’s membership reflects that in the wider industry. Conducting this survey and subsquent actions will help us ensure that women are represented at all levels of the NI’s governance and structure and that women in nuclear are equally able to achieve professional status to the highest levels of NI membership.

You can read more about the NI Diversity Survey here, and find out more about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the NI.