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Encouraging Women in Science: IAEA Welcomes First Interns from Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme

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international day women girls nuclear science

Sascha Ostanina, Inna Rodina and Evelyn Granizo are three of many women graduates who have started their nuclear science-based careers and are closing the gender gap of women in science. (Photo: A.Vargas/IAEA)

While a growing number of women enrol into science-based degree programmes, many opt out at higher levels, according to UNESCO. Furthermore, women who do become scientists are less likely than men to remain scientists. The result, UNESCO states, is that women represent less than 30 per cent of the world’s researchers.

In its commitment to gender equality and encouraging more women to enter the field of nuclear science, the IAEA has recruited some of the first graduates supported through its Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP) launched in 2020, for internship positions at its headquarters in Vienna and laboratories in Seibersdorf. The Fellowship Programme, an initiative to help women who have completed nuclear science education to develop and expand their career opportunities in this field, offers selected students a scholarship for master's programmes in nuclear related studies at accredited universities. The internship, at the IAEA and in other nuclear science-based organizations, is the final stage in the MSCFP.

To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, three women carrying out internships at the IAEA shared their experiences.

Evelyn Granizo, Ecuador

“Through the internship, I’m getting a chance to advance the theoretical knowledge I developed during my master's specialising in the field of nuclear medicine,” said Evelyn Granizo.

Granizo completed her master's studies in medical physics at the National Research Nuclear University in Moscow, and since joining the IAEA in January has been learning about the various areas of nuclear medicine that are covered at the IAEA Seibersdorf laboratories, including audits, detector calibration and research. Her interest is specifically in brachytherapy — a type of internal radiation therapy used to treat various cancers. “It is a technique which offers many benefits,” she said. “With further development of its methodologies, a more effective and personalised treatment can be offered. I hope to help progress the development of brachytherapy by involving myself in further research.”

Sascha Ostanina, Germany

Having worked in journalism for 12 years, Sascha Ostanina sought a new field of interest, deciding to pursue a master's in international affairs, with a focus on international security. “I decided to change my career as I found myself interested in nuclear security and how it provides comprehensive protection to people and the environment,” she said. “This was also in line with my interest in the potential of nuclear technologies to find sustainable solutions to global problems, which I came to know more about during my time as a journalist.”

With the help of the IAEA’s MSCFP, Ostanina is now exploring this field, and as a member of the education and training development unit within the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security, she is involved in developing the strategic vision and understanding of how the team can combine various relevant nuclear security teaching materials to be distributed to countries around the world.

“Being a young woman starting afresh in the field of nuclear security hasn’t been easy. You’re often challenged on your capability and knowledge on the topic as a woman, but this internship is giving me the chance to show that I am in the right place and have the knowledge and experience it takes to become successful in this field,” she said.

Inna Rodina, Russian Federation

Focussing on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Inna Rodina completed her master’s programme in non-proliferation and terrorism studies, and then worked at the Rosatom Technical Academy, and in think tanks, including the Center for Energy and Security Studies in Moscow and the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

“My professional experience meant that I have keenly followed the work of the IAEA,” said Rodina. “Being able to join the Agency, I’m now seeing first-hand how the IAEA uses technical measures to verify that nuclear material and technology remains in peaceful use, thus deterring the spread of nuclear weapons.”

Rodina works within the IAEA’s safeguards strategic planning team and is supporting the team to organise this year’s Safeguards Symposium, scheduled for 31 October – 4 November.

“The Symposium aims to encourage diverse stakeholder participation to discuss where we’ve been and where we’re going in nuclear verification,” said Rodina. “I am looking forward to this experience with the safeguards community and engaging with our partners, and new and non-traditional partners from a broad range of industries and specialisms.”

IAEA and gender equality

Along with offering internships to young women, the IAEA carries out a number of other activities to encourage women to build careers in the nuclear field. These include webinars promoting women in nuclear science, conferences for women in physics and panel discussions on women’s journeys in science. The IAEA supports network and interest groups, such as Women in Radiopharmaceuticals, the Women in Nuclear Security Initiative (WINSI), Women in Nuclear Global and the IAEA Chapter of Women in Nuclear.

The IAEA further encourages students to build interest in science through global workshops, invites young professionals to engage in competitions related to this area and offers a wide spectrum of education and training activities on various nuclear-related topics.

For more information about the Agency’s commitment to gender equality, visit our webpage here

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