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Dawn Watson CPhys FInstP FNucI, Head of Strategy and Technical, Infrastructure team, Sellafield Sites, explains why she joined the IOP’s Women in Physics and Nuclear Industry groups.

A headshot of smiling Dawn Watson, Sellafield Sites and IOP Fellow

I have been a member of the IOP since I was at university some years ago. At the start of my career, I was keen to keep an eye on developments in the scientific world, although my career in the nuclear industry was not pure physics.

At that time, I was a member of a couple of IOP groups, but I wasn’t very active – I attended a few events but it wasn’t my prime focus. However, it was good that I felt there was an opportunity to meet and speak to other physicists if I wanted to.

About seven years ago that all changed for me. I went to an event organised by the IOP and realised that, although I’m not in academia, much of the challenges we face in industry are similar. Around the same time, I also became an IOP Fellow, and felt that it was a good time to put something back.

Over the past few years, I’ve been the secretary and am now the chair of the Women in Physics Group, and an active member of the Nuclear Industry Group, helping to organise events for people in the industry and outside it to encourage inclusion and diversity and collaborate about different topics. We meet as a committee several times a year, sometimes virtually and sometimes in person.

Being part of a Special Interest Group, and committee, that is connected with but not part of the company I work for, is really enlightening. It’s great to hear other people’s stories about the issues they face, and to work together with a group of individuals who all have significantly different career paths, careers, roles and life experience. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet many of the IOP staff who work hard to support the groups.

One of the great things I get from being part of the committee is the opportunity to pull together to make a difference, whatever our backgrounds, and I always look forward to our events and meetings, particularly those that are face to face.