In collaboration with Women in Nuclear Global, the NICE Future initiative seeks to increase gender inclusion in the nuclear industry. The NICE Future initiative recognizes the valuable role that women have played in the scientific discovery and utilization of nuclear energy and encourages partner organizations and business to adopt practices that promote gender inclusivity. Below are just a few of the many reasons why the workforce of the future needs women leaders, and why the nuclear industry is a great place for women to work.
Why the nuclear energy workforce of the future needs women leaders
- Representation matters. When more women are visibly working in the nuclear industry, they become role models to younger generations and especially girls. Representation impacts their decision to enter the workforce as nuclear professionals, further enhancing the positive impact of nuclear energy. In other words, more women bring in more women.
- High-potential talent pool is expanding. The World Bank concludes that girls academically perform as well as or even better than boys in STEM subjects. Globally there are more women enrolled than men in universities and graduation rates for women are higher. However, women are less likely than men to enter and more likely to leave the STEM workforce. Representation and visibility of women leaders in the nuclear energy workforce will positively impact this high-potential talent pool of girls and women to enter and remain in the nuclear workforce.
- Diverse perspectives are necessary. The nuclear industry is tasked with making and executing decisions that can potentially affect millions of people in a variety of sectors (from healthcare and food security to climate change and energy security, to name a few), and in a world with increasingly complex global networks, it is important to ensure that diverse perspectives are included.
- Organizational performance increases. Many research and reports, such as Catalyst 2007 or Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA 2007 suggest that having women in leadership positions at the management and board level results in better organizational performance.
- Risk-awareness heightens. In industries that face stress and change, such as nuclear, a more gender-balanced workforce and leadership can be advantageous as it leads to more open and transparent discussions about organizational risks.
- Competitors lose out. Organizations with more women in leadership positions create a more gender diverse leadership that results in higher profit compared to competitors. According to Talent at the Table: Women in Power and Utilities Index 2015, companies operating in an asset-heavy sector such as energy utilities can gain millions of profits if there are more women in leadership ranks.
- Empathy for future generations. In general, women can more effectively empathize with others. Women in leadership positions have the opportunity to bring empathetic reflection into the decision-making process by bringing the concerns and perspectives of future generations who are increasingly at risk of climate change impacts, and they help build a more sustainable approach to organizational goals and policies.
Why the nuclear sector is a great place for women to work
- Making a societally meaningful impact. Working in nuclear provides the opportunity to engage in exciting technology innovation and discovery that has positive and real impact to the day-to-day lives of people. The content of the work is more societally meaningful, as nuclear technology, applications and energy have direct relevance in healthcare, environmental issues, water security, food and agriculture, and so much more.
- Exciting opportunities at the forefront of innovation. Meeting the world’s growing appetite and need for energy will be almost impossible without rapid growth of the nuclear energy industry. This presents ample opportunity for nuclear energy professionals to envision, participate and enhance the roadmap for nuclear innovation in the energy field.
- Ensuring safe and secure use of technology. The nuclear industry has a strong, sustainable and well-established worldwide framework and culture for safety and security in place. They ensure the protection of people, society and the environment from any harmful effects of radiation.
- Better opportunities for employment and advancement. In general, aging populations and retired workforces demand more people to come to the workforce. And there are available talented, well-educated and very often hard-working female workers that can be tapped. Women, Work and the Economy from the International Monetary Fund concludes that there are micro- and macro-economic gains for tapping into the potential of female workers, and the nuclear industry is no exception to that.
- Highly effective support system for women in nuclear professions. Gender bias, workplace exclusion and lack of support systems for women in traditionally male-dominated industries are some of the factors that inhibit women to pursue careers. Thankfully, the nuclear industry has a worldwide network of women working in the nuclear industry – Women in Nuclear Global is an effective nonprofit professional association providing support and growth to over 35,000 women around the world working in nuclear professions.
- Many opportunities for professional development and career growth. Since the nuclear industry must continuously evolve and advance its technology and innovations, there are plenty of opportunities to share knowledge and discoveries worldwide. Ample avenues for advanced learning and information exchange with a global audience provide continuous professional development.
- Better salaries and smaller wage gap. According to the United States’ White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, women in STEM jobs earn 33 per cent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men.