Dr Fiona Rayment, speaking at NEA UK mentoring workshop in Birmingham

This International Women's Day the NEA asked women what they most enjoy about working in the nuclear sector. (Pictured: Dr Fiona Rayment, Nuclear Advisor at National Nuclear Laboratory, UK and Chair of the NEA High-Level Group on Improving Gender Balance in the Nuclear Sector.)

As highlighted in a 2023 NEA report, a lack of gender balance in the talent pipeline and leadership positions hinders potential innovation and growth in the nuclear field.

Many NEA member countries face skills shortages which threaten the capability of the workforce to meet future nuclear energy goals. To help address this issue, the NEA is working to attract more women into the sector through initiatives such as the NEA International Mentoring Workshops, High Level Group on Improving Gender Balance in the Nuclear Sector, and its collaborative work with Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global. 

Following the release of the report, the OECD Council adopted a policy Recommendation to help governments to attract more women into the nuclear sector and develop more female leaders, ensuring its sustainability and contribution to net zero.

While work remains to be done in this area, there are many women making significant contributions to the nuclear field across science and technology, engineering, policy development, nuclear law, radiological protection, nuclear safety and more.

To mark this International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, the NEA asked women already working in the sector: "What do you most enjoy about working in the nuclear sector?" 

People and culture

“Number one the people, I love the people that I meet, it's fantastic.” - Dr. Fiona Rayment, Chief Science & Technology Officer National Nuclear Laboratory, United Kingdom

Evolving sector

“I am an attorney I don’t come from a STEM background, but I have found that over the years it has been an environment of constant learning. The nuclear sector is always changing. The issues change over the years and it's always exciting, never a boring day.”- Brooke Clarke, General Counsel, U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Learning and excellency

“There is a permanent look for excellence in your job which means that you always have to be up to date with knowledge you never stop learning - Maria Luisa Tormo, International Relations Advisor on Radiological Protection Matters, Spanish Nuclear Safety Council

“It's a non-stop learning industry. Every day you have to learn new things in order to carry out your job to a high level.” - Sumaya Al-Salmi, Senior Engineer, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR),UAE

Impactful work

“I love working in the nuclear sector because of the impact it has. Particularly in the Australian setting, we use nuclear applications to manufacture medicine, to manage and treat diseases such as cancers. We use the neutron and nuclear applications to bolster infrastructure, to make roads and railways more secure, to manage our water resources in really arid regions of the country to make sure that there is ground water accessible for decades to come.” - Marina Francis, Counsellor, Australian Embassy& Permanent Mission to UN

Exploring science

“I love that I get to explore my curiosities as a scientist. I work on various projects that are near and dear to my heart and I am empowered to do so.” - Julie Leblanc, Radiation & Health Science Officer, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Challenging global issues

“Every day I realise that part of the nuclear energy mission is aligned to goals of net zero and energy security, so I feel like I’m working in a sector that has a moral purpose.” - Beccy Pleasant, Head of Nuclear Skills, Nuclear Skills Strategy Group, UK

“I find my work to be extremely rewarding because primarily the focus of the sector is to support the challenges that we face at a global level. Timely issues including energy security and trying to reach net zero in the near-term is important. Every day in my work, I feel that I'm contributing to a bigger goal of low-carbon, sustainable energy, encouraging inclusive work markets and so many other features.” - Natalie Bonilla, Deputy Head of Policy and Co-ordination, NEA

Career development

“You can have such a varied and interesting career. There are a lot of technical challenges as well as policy challenges and a wide range of interesting things that you can confront and develop yourself in.” - Shahnaz Hoque, Nuclear Energy Policy Analyst, NEA

International environment

“You get the opportunity to work with so many complex subjects from economics to technical components to social sciences. You get to work with a really diverse range of people and it also gives you the opportunity to work with people from around the globe so it's really fascinating there's definitely no boring day working in the nuclear sector.” - Morgan Packer, Junior Specialist in Radioactive Waste& Decommissioning Management, NEA 

For more on the NEA's work on improving gender balance in the nuclear sector, visit: www.oecd-nea.org/gender

See also