“Man in the Center: Inclusive Culture and Environment in the Nuclear Industry” session was held in Obninsk on September 21 as part of the Obninsk NEW International Youth Nuclear Forum, organized under the sponsorship of Rosatom.
Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General, Head of the IAEA Nuclear Energy Department, Bahire Gül Göktepe, President of Women in Nuclear, Turkey, Deepti Das Krishna, Associate Professor and Head of Electronics Department, Cochin University of Science and Technology (India), Marine Hakobyan and others took part in the event. The session was held in consultation with the International Council for Support of Women in Science and Technology, the creation of which was initiated last year by the Russian association Women of the Nuclear Industry.
The session participants discussed the issue of creating an environment in the industry where everyone was comfortable regardless of gender, physical ability and nationality, as well as existing barriers and available successful practices to help overcome them.
Mikhail Chudakov, Head of the IAEA Nuclear Energy Department, who has devoted his entire life to the occupation, noted that women worked successfully in a wide variety of nuclear areas, although they thought and solved problems in a way that differed a bit from men. He also told about the IAEA's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Program to support women in pursuing specialized education: "We pay scholarship, we pay for accommodation, and we also offer post-training internships. About 200 women have already graduated. We try to keep them in the nuclear field and help with career development." Mikhail Chudakov added that the program was very successful: graduates were completing their Ph.D. dissertations and some of them were already working at NPPs.
Bahire Gül Göktepe, President of Women in Nuclear, Turkey, emphasized the importance of continuous development and shared the inspiring story of her first love with everyone: "He is not a handsome man, not a famous soccer player or actor. I fell in love when I saw the blue emission fuel in the pool. That was my first love, because I was absolutely enamored with it. And if you fall in love like that, you need to move forward." She also noted that women should constantly learn and upgrade their skills to be successful in the occupation they love.
Deepti Das Krishna, Associate Professor and Head of Electronics Department at Cochin University of Science and Technology, India, also spoke at the conference. She noted that a support system was essential for women and cited her country's program, which helped women not to interrupt their careers after having a family and children, but to continue to develop science and technology. "It is necessary that you have mentors, you need to follow your dreams and then the results will not take long. That's my motto," she concluded.
Marine Hakobyan, Leading Engineer of Nuclear Safety Department of the Armenian NPP, member of the International Council of Women in Science and Technology, drew attention in her speech to the fact that the involvement of women in nuclear power had a positive effect on the industry. She said women were involved in research, discovery, including working at NPPs. She also noted that it was the human being who did it all; it was the human being who made the discoveries and worked for the good of the whole society. She added that working in the nuclear industry was a social elevator, including for women.
The forum is attended by experts, students, postgraduates and young scientists from over 70 countries, including Hungary, Vietnam, Kenya, Turkey, Uzbekistan, South Africa and other countries, as well as representatives of the academic community, major international corporations and authorities.