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Recruiting women at the IAEA

One of the key hurdles the IAEA faces in boosting the ranks of its professional women toward the United Nations’ goal of 50 per cent is finding female candidates with the right scientific and technical skills and experience.

The search for women in science

The IAEA is working hard to increase the number of women staff in the scientific and engineering fields. As part of its commitment, the Agency supports the equal participation of women and men in the Secretariat through a number of measures. These include:

  • Special attention to well-qualified women candidates in the recruitment process to ensure that in cases of comparable qualifications and suitability, women are given due consideration;
  • Reaching out to more well-qualified female applicants through Member State Points of Contact for the Recruitment of Women and with the Candidate Sourcing Plan;
  • Steps to increase the representation of women at Agency conferences, seminars and workshops and to promote the involvement of women scientists in coordinated research programmes and technical cooperation projects;
  • A Focal Point for Gender Concerns to address specific gender-related concerns, seek recommended policy changes, monitor the progress made in the representation of women in the professional and higher categories;
  • Departmental Focal Point for Gender Concerns and an alternate  to assist Department heads in their efforts to achieve gender equality within their areas;
  • A Joint Advisory Sub-Committee on Gender Concerns to identify the Agency´s challenges in increasing the representation of female staff members and to propose recommendations for promoting a more family-friendly work environment;
  • Career seminars for students at secondary or tertiary institutions held to encourage more women to choose careers in nuclear science and technology; and
  • Cooperation with other UN agencies active in the field of gender issues, such as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

A 'family-friendly' work environment

Social norms often mean that professional women experience greater difficulties than men in relocating their families. To make the Agency a more attractive employer to families, one aim is to provide a supportive environment, which allows staff to combine work and family responsibilities. Arrangements in place include:

  • Flexible working hours that allow staff, particularly parents, to plan a more convenient working day;
  • Job sharing (or part time work) for staff in special occupational categories at both the general service and professional levels;
  • A work from home policy in certain circumstances;
  • Fully paid parental leave with 26 weeks for birth parents and 16 weeks for non-birth parents;
  • A specified number of days for family emergencies;
  • A Child Care Centre, located in the Vienna International Centre, that provides support for parents working at the Vienna International Centre, which is where the IAEA is located. Its opening hours correspond with the Agency´s regular working hours;
  • Nursing breaks of up to two hours per day for parents with a child up to two years of age;
  • Access to the local labour market for dependants who are not nationals of European Union countries; and
  • A policy for the prevention of harassment and other forms of unfair or discriminatory treatment of staff.

Apart from internal measures, the IAEA also helps to improve the life of women and families, especially in developing countries, through its technical cooperation projects. Such programmes help  for example women gain access to fresh water, establish radiotherapy centres to improve women´s health, and improve the nutritional status of women and children.


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