Women Physicists in the Nuclear Industry One Day Event

27 June 2018

Organised by the IOP Nuclear Industry Group (NIG) and the IOP Women in Physics Group (WIPG), this event ook place on 25 April 2018 on the Harwell Campus. It was sponsored by both AWE and Cavendish Nuclear.

Women Physicists in the Nuclear Industry
Photo credit: Josie Coltman

The aim of this one-day event was to showcase the work of women in the nuclear industry and to discuss some of the issues that women in this sector face. The event was open to all, regardless of gender, and welcomed people at all career stages. It included an inspiring talk by Adriènne Kelbie (Chief Executive of ONR and Women in Nuclear UK Patron) on ‘Your Authentic Self’ followed by a panel discussion on careers within the nuclear industry. After lunch there was a panel discussion on career breaks, which included those who had been on maternity leave, sick leave and career breaks for other reasons, as well Dr Katie Perry (Chief Executive of the Daphne Jackson Trust) and Kristina Smith (HR Consultant at AWE) who were able to answer more general questions on career break policies.

The final two talks were given by Dr Heather Williams (Senior Medical Physicist at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, Ordinary Member of the IOP WIPG and founder/director of ScienceGrrl) on ‘Physics meets Chemistry meets Biology: Nuclear Medicine’ and Jenny Richards (Director of Hydrock nmcl) on ‘Nuclear and Me’, which were both fascinating talks in their own right. Jenny’s included how she progressed from starting as a Health Physicist at Harwell to setting up her own consultancy firm, which is now part of Hydrock.

This concluded the end of the main event, which received very good feedback, including from Dr Lauren Hobbs (physicist in the Material Physics Group at AWE) who said that she “thought it was a breath of fresh air to be in a space where we could instantly disregard gender stereotypes. The keynote speaker was well chosen and it was great to see where women have found their place over such a diverse range of industries. I particularly liked the idea of a buddy scheme for people taking a career break and would be keen to see something implemented here. It may sound trite, but Jenny Richards’ talk was particularly empowering coming from someone who’s had a career doing what we’re doing, and then forged her own path from this.”. There was even the suggestion of doing another one in the future, but with a slightly different agenda. There were just under 50 attendees including the speakers/panellists, which was a great turnout.

Women Physicists in the Nuclear Industry
Photo credit: Josie Coltman

After the main event, Dr David Price (Public Engagement Officer for the Diamond Light Source) gave an overview of the Diamond Light Source facility before giving an optional tour of the facility for those who had registered for it. Dr Josie Coltman (physicist in the Design Physics Group at AWE, Ordinary Member of the IOP WIPG and one of the organisers of the event) said “it was fascinating to see the vast size of the synchrotron and all the different beamlines used for studying pretty much anything from ancient paintings to unknown virus structures."



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