‘Unacceptable that only a fifth of nuclear workforce are women’

The chief executive of the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation has said that “it is fundamentally unacceptable to me that only a fifth of the nuclear workforce are women”.

Adriènne Kelbie said that she was determined to see more women enter the nuclear engineering workforce, especially as the UK embarks on what has been labelled a ‘nuclear renaissance’.

Kelbie took up her post in January after previously being the chief executive of the Disclosure and Barring Service, a government organisation which replaced Britain’s Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority.

Speaking at the Nuclear Industry Association’s conference in London yesterday, Kelbie said she was eager to meet the challenges ahead as the UK looks to build a new fleet of nuclear reactors.

She also stressed that her own regulatory staff would see a turnover of 80 per cent between 2010 and 2020, mirroring the recruitment drive needed in the wider sector to provide the skills needed to design, build and regulate new reactors such as Hinkley Point C, which is now underway in England.

And in a bid to bring more women into the nuclear decision-making process, she urged the board members of all the companies at the conference to “bring one more chair to the table”.

The call for more women in the nuclear industry was again addressed by Joanna Woolf, chief executive of Cogent Skills, a strategic body promoting careers in the science industries. She said that young women needed to see role models in the nuclear industry and looked forward to the day when “we get to the situation when the question of women in nuclear is not asked anymore”.

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