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Nuclear Science Needs More Women, Urges IAEA Deputy Director General Janice Dunn Lee

Ms Janice Dunn Lee

IAEA Deputy Director General for Management, Ms. Janice Dunn Lee, speaking at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York (Photo: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute )

On 22 November 2013, Ms. Janice Dunn Lee, Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), gave a keynote address on Sixty Years of Atoms for Peace: Women in Nuclear Science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, United States.

Addressing the gathering, Deputy Director General Dunn Lee introduced the vision set out in the 1953 "Atoms for Peace" speech by then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower at the United Nations General Assembly. The speech catalysed the process that led to the establishment of the IAEA. Her presentation summarized the Agency's mandate and its continuing work in fostering the peaceful, safe and sustainable uses of nuclear energy to monitor the environment, track pollution, reduce plastic waste, strengthen food and water security, improve health care, and provide low-carbon energy. She stressed that the Agency's mission is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.

Deputy Director General Dunn Lee stressed the need to reduce the gender imbalance in the nuclear sciences. She viewed this disparity with concern stating that in order to grow, the nuclear world needs to make use of the talents and leadership abilities of both men and women. As the first female Head of the IAEA Department of Management, Ms. Dunn Lee mentioned that one of her goals was to encourage women to enter the nuclear field and consider careers in nuclear science and applications. She emphasized that the IAEA works actively to encourage and increase the number of women in senior positions and to implement gender mainstreaming in its programmes. She noted that creating a wider awareness of the benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear energy is vital as this field of study plays a significant role in the prosperity of humanity and contributes to sustainable development.

For example, in human health, Deputy Director General Dunn Lee provided an orientation on the IAEA's programmes that utilize nuclear medicine and radiation therapy to detect and treat non-communicable diseases, including their use in fighting the world's major killers, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

In the area of food security, the Deputy Director General drew attention to the close collaboration that the Agency maintains with the FAO is developing crop varieties that are resilient against drought and disease, and can thrive in saline soil conditions. The IAEA and the FAO have been collaborating in improving agriculture in the developing world for almost fifty years through the use of nuclear techniques.

Ms. Dunn Lee noted that the IAEA supports Member States in finding solutions to address global challenges such ensuring access to appropriate and adequate energy, which is crucial in achieving sustainable development and reducing poverty. She explained that the IAEA provides Member States with comprehensive energy assessments and planning support, which incorporate the full range of all energy options: renewable, nuclear and fossil.

The Deputy Director General's presentation also highlighted the Agency's mandate in nuclear safety and security, as well in safeguards and verification.

The recording of IAEA Deputy Director General Janice Dunn Lee's presentation is accessible here.

Technical requirements for viewing the presentation can be found here.


-- By Aabha Dixit, IAEA Division of Public Information

(Note to Media: We encourage you to republish these stories and kindly request attribution to the IAEA)