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IAEA Launches Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme to Push for More Women in Nuclear

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today launched a new fellowship programme for up to 100 female graduate students per year to help close a persistent gender gap in the nuclear field. Named after twice Nobel Prize winner, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme aims to increase the number of women working in nuclear science and technology.

The initiative, by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, was presented at an Agency event in Vienna to mark International Women’s Day. Marie Skłodowska-Curie’s granddaughter, nuclear physicist Hélène Langevin-Joliot, sent a video message in support of the initiative, and Argentine nuclear physicist and Latin American winner of the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science Karen Hallberg attended the launch event.

“Women are still far from being adequately represented in the nuclear field, and this is unacceptable,” Mr Grossi said. “Nuclear science and technology help countries to combat many of today’s challenges, like climate change, so the demand for qualified professionals is high and will continue to grow.”  

The IAEA is the world’s centre for cooperation in the nuclear field and depends upon a stable pool of qualified technical professionals to fulfil its mission. Women, however, make up only 30 per cent of IAEA staff in the professional and higher categories. 

“Achieving gender parity among professional staff at the IAEA is one of my absolute top priorities as Director General,” Mr Grossi said. “To me, this means 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men – and that is the goal I have set for myself.”

Women often face barriers to enter and progress in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), right from their school years. The new Programme aims to provide an incentive for young women to consider a career in nuclear science and technology through scholarships and work experience opportunities.  

The IAEA will provide scholarships for up to 2 years for women pursuing a graduate degree in nuclear science and technology or non-proliferation studies. Fellows will also be offered internships at the IAEA.

The exact number of scholarships to be awarded per year will depend on the availability of funds. Many IAEA Member States have already indicated strong support for the fellowship programme and readiness to support it financially.

The name of the Programme honours one of the most famous female scientists. Marie Skłodowska-Curie’s pioneering work on radioactivity in the late 1800s enabled the world to harness the power of the atom, producing countless benefits for humankind.

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