More “pink cardigans” needed in nuclear

More women are needed in the nuclear sector, it has been claimed. Referring to women as “pink cardigans”, Katrina Williams, Director General for International, Science and Resilience at DECC said […]

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By Taryn Nixon

More women are needed in the nuclear sector, it has been claimed.

Referring to women as “pink cardigans”, Katrina Williams, Director General for International, Science and Resilience at DECC said if the nuclear sector does not tap into the talent that women represent, the UK will not be able to meet business needs.

The civil servant made the claim at an event yesterday hosted by Women in Nuclear UK.

Her concerns were echoed by Dame Sue Ion, one of the most prominent advocates for women in the nuclear sector, who said women make up 10% of female engineers. It is estimated that by 2022 the industry will need another one million engineers.

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The gap in women in nuclear starts from a very early age at school, with only 2% of girls studying physics, she said.

Dame Sue warned: “It’s physics that’s killing us because it’s a barrier to do more in the science and engineering field.”

An estimated 16GW of nuclear power is in the planning process and the need to increase the workforce opens many opportunities for women.

Asked what she would advise women wanting to get into the nuclear sector, Dame Sue told ELN: “The career opportunities are so diverse, you can enter doing one thing and end up five to 10 years later doing something completely different – all the way from working in environment and health and safety to new builds to cleaning up legacy issues.”