Women Working In Nuclear: Are You Serious?

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My name is Jenny and I have a passion for science, robotics and constructing projects together; yes I am a woman in engineering! Times have changed and it is not just the males coming to the rescue in jobs but the women too. This male dominated engineering, nuclear and construction industry has turned around quickly with the increase in female workers taking an interest in these fields of work and today I want to bring to you some thoughts on why more women should get involved in this line of work and what is currently happening around us.

The Female Engineers Who Work In Nuclear: Opportunities and Challenges

Somewhat surprisingly, the job most commonly associated with work in the nuclear field is amongst the least common jobs at power plants. Nuclear engineers account for roughly 5-10% of staff in the field. In fact, most engineers in the sector hold degrees in mechanical, civil, or electrical engineering, yet the vast majority of professionals in the field are not engineers at all.

If it interests you to know more then get this – trade jobs account for the largest percentage of workers, predominant amongst those who are welders, electricians, grinders, carpenters, boilermakers, and machinists. There are many safe opportunities for women in managerial and administrative professionals in the sector and salaries in the can range from approximately £30-£70K; pretty good for a female engineer.

In Africa, women have made a major difference in this field of work. Have you heard of Sarah Nafuna and Jane Mubanga? Well, they are seen as role models for their country as they have encouraged women in Africa to work in the scientific field. As chemical engineers both of these women serve their country as National Liaison Officers for the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation; primary contacts in nuclear work. They have both been challenged within this environment but love the nature of the work they do. They have stated that nuclear science is a new field in Africa but with it comes many opportunities in scientific fields and I have to agree.

Just look how the world is developing and the environment too, we women have many skills to offer and the world could sure do with employing our skills in the different areas of work. I recommend if you study engineering you specialize in a range of modules so you can cover all work segments; it really comes in handy. After my degree, I was actually able to work in various roles covering, construction, and architecture and even began in a science lab assisting! And look at these women in Africa role models now, it’s all worth it.

Out of these statistics and job roles it is women who are changing the face of nuclear jobs. According to studies that have been conducted by the (ILO) the International Labour Organization, women are beginning to take up 50% of this workforce which is a big change for a well-known male dominated industry. It was the ILO study that showed young women graduates were specializing more in the natural sciences which has traditionally been a male-dominated discipline of study. So, should other women take risks and work in this field?

Why not! I loved the risk and adventure involved in being creative – part of building and maintaining a new construction on work sites with those new and some lethal technologies to hand. There was a variety of jobs available when I was looking but here is how other females like me have progressed in this field of work and how they are reaching out to other women to become involved in nuclear work:

Women Listen Up – Know Your Dangers and Protections

It may sound great so far, but the reality is – there can always be a danger! With nuclear the greatest danger in the field and the ominous element that sets it apart from similar industries, is of course radiation, and while uncontrolled radiation is a serious threat indeed, nuclear facilities throughout the world go to great lengths to ensure it never becomes uncontrolled.

Workers need to limit their time spent in radiation zones, so will wear protective clothing, and will have to strictly monitor their individual radiation doses by wearing a special radiation-sensing badge; think of it as the new work fashion, it can be trendy!

If you want to spread your knowledge on nuclear, here is a fact – contrary to a popular misconception, the giant ‘smoke’ columns rising from nuclear plants do not contain harmful substances and are not even smoke, rather, they are steam clouds created by the massive amounts of water used to cool the core. Despite the well-known and highly publicized nature of nuclear power plant accidents, radiation exposure is extremely rare. There have been 12 significant reactor accidents in more than “14,500 cumulative year of commercial nuclear power operation in 32 countries,” only a few of which resulted in loss of life.

Are You Tempted To Enter The Future of Nuclear!

To the new women of engineering – this is an expanding industry to work in. In a multi-billion dollar deal, Japanese and French builders were recently contracted to construct numerous new plants in Turkey. In India, it recently saw the Supreme Court approve a large new plant in Tamil Nadu. As it should be, growth in the nuclear field is slow and measured, but industry experts expect to see continued growth in the foreseeable future; good news for employment opportunities.

In my opinion, the world needs engineered technologies, clean energy and viable alternatives to our environmentally destructive reliance on fossil fuels. Nuclear power may not be the perfect solution, but it is a solution nonetheless. Only the dedicated efforts of industry professionals can make it better, safer, and more efficient and so we look to the leading women in this field to take the front line and lead us into the future. TC mark

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