Celebrating Diversity: Women Energize an Atomic World
The IAEA supports the United Nation´s goal of achieving diversity and equality in the workplace. The UN has set its sights on a better balance between men and women in its workforce, and the IAEA has developed this web site to highlight ways in which it is supporting and moving toward that goal.
Rejane Spiegelberg Planer, Goli Khabiri, Gabriele Voigt, Getha Sadagopan and Ana María Cetto tell their personal stories of their own experiences in the IAEA, highlighting the many challenges and issues that both men and women confront in a dynamic workforce, and illustrate how women are contributing to the changing face of the world´s nuclear community. More »
Thabisile Moleah from South Africa, is Programme Management Officer in the Department of Technical Cooperation.
Seeing malnourished children in South Africa moved Thabisile Moleah to study Nutrition and Dietetics in South Africa. A Fullbright scholarship and later the American Association of University Women (AAUW) award, endorsed her to study an MSc in Clinical Nutrition at the University of Rhode Island, and a PhD in International Nutrition at Cornell University.
Ms. Moleah first heard about the IAEA during her studies. Isotopic techniques sponsored by the IAEA are considered the best method for measuring breastmilk, and bioavailability of nutrients, thus providing important information for nutrition intervention programmes.
Her job as Programme Management Officer is different than anything else she has ever done: developing and implementing a myriad of projects ranging from agriculture and food security to energy planning and water resource management throughout the Africa region. This includes coordinating with other international organisations (like WHO) as well as ministries of agriculture, health, water, and other development agencies.
Ms. Moleah has found her job challenging but rewarding. For example, she worked on a project to expand a radiotherapy centre in Uganda, including providing equipment for cancer treatment as well as training of essential staff. To see the benefits that this project has brought to hundreds of people, not only in Uganda but also for its neighbouring countries, is very gratifying.
Yvonne Lokko from Ghana, is a Plant Breeder/Geneticist in the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications.
Ms. Lokko first heard about the IAEA while studying her BSc in Botany at the University of Ghana, through its work with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). After an MSc in Plant Biotechnology from the University of London, she came to the IAEA as a Research Fellow, where she had the opportunity to learn and understand different nuclear techniques used in plant breeding and genetics at the IAEA Seibersdorf laboratories and applied these to her research work at the GAEC. Following her PhD in Crop Science (Plant Breeding and Genetics) Ms Lokko worked as a plant biotechnologist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, when she decided to apply for a job at the IAEA, which she joined in 2006.
Working in an office rather than at a laboratory has been a rewarding experience for Ms Lokko, as she is able to use her wide and diversified knowledge in the field to support many research projects, ranging from projects regarding drought tolerance in Zimbabwe to improving underutilized crops in Peru. As a Technical Officer, she provides technical support for TC projects dealing with induced mutation and biotechnology and focusing on genetic technologies for crop improvement.
For Ms. Lokko, it is very gratifying to see the direct results of her work in Member States. Some success stories include projects for improving the quality of Cassava, building resistance to a Cacao virus disease, and improving indigenous crops such as amaranth, quinoa and cowpeas for increased productivity of the resources poor farmers in southern Africa.
Ms. Lokko believes it is important to encourage young girls to get acquainted with the physical and applied sciences, so that they do not feel daunted by intimidating subjects such as nuclear physics.
Annick Carnino, Baldip Khan and Joanna Izewska add their voices and talk about their experiences working in the IAEA. (Watch the videos):
"The job in science is that, for women, you have to be motivated and dedicated... but I think it is wonderful when you accomplish that [your objective]."
Annick Carnino from France, Director of Nuclear Installations in the Department of Nuclear Safety, talks about her work in promoting safety at nuclear power plants.
Ms. Carnino was also appointed Focal Point for Gender Concerns from 1996 to 2002.
"It adds meaning to my life to be able to do something which I know is very important and I hope what I am doing makes a difference."
Baldip Khan, a Biomedical scientist from Kenya in the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, talks about her experiences as a scientist at the IAEA and in Kenya.
"I was inspired by Marie Curie. As a child, she was for me a very professional woman. It was like an example of what we can do with our lives."
Joanna Izewska from Poland, and head of the Dosimetry Unit, talks about her work at the IAEA laboratories.