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Take a chance – what is the worst that can happen?

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The third Women in Nuclear UK conference takes place this week, where the theme will be ‘power together to create change’. A few days ago I found out that I was one of 3 people to be shortlisted for the Champion of the Year award. It is an honour to have been nominated but more importantly it represents the efforts of our whole team during a fantastic first year of the Dounreay Women’s Network.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) mission is to deal with the UK’s legacy, in many cases dating back more than half a century. A constant challenge for our industry is understanding that what worked for decades, during a site’s operational phase, may not get the best results during the stages of decommissioning, both in terms of engineering and cultural issues.

So I’m thrilled to see that within NDA and Sellafield Ltd, organisations that we work with regularly, there are male colleagues who have been nominated for the WiN “Ally of the Year” award for going beyond the day job to improve gender balance and diversity. Good luck to NDA’s Nikos Adamidis and Sellafield Ltd’s John Patterson.

Improving gender diversity at Dounreay

At Dounreay our commitment to improve gender diversity started when we signed the Women in Nuclear UK industry charter 2 years ago. This was followed by a period of learning from the wider NDA estate and our parent body organisations to understand the approach taken to gender diversity and the wider equality, diversity and inclusivity (ED&I) agenda in other businesses. In parallel we conducted an in-house survey identifying the key issues that were affecting women working for our organisation.

Dounreay Women’s Network was then formed with three key focus areas:

  • Education and engagement
  • HR processes and personal development
  • Data analysis

The network has been working closely with others and our business is represented at the NDA’s ED&I Council, chaired by Paul Vallance, to address issues and inspire change across the estate.

Supporting women in engineering at Dounreay nuclear site
Supporting women in engineering at Dounreay nuclear site

Strong leadership is critical. Managing Director Phil Craig and the executive team at Dounreay have demonstrated a strong commitment to starting the conversation about gender diversity and wider ED&I issues, aiming to create a positive future that will help deliver the decommissioning programme.

Results from recent social media poll during 2017 supply chain event
Results from recent social media poll during 2017 supply chain event


The benefits of gender diversity are clear. Research has shown that gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers and inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments.

This challenge isn’t unique to Dounreay or the NDA estate. We are actively trying to establish a Scottish branch of Women in Nuclear, with the potential for a local branch in the Highlands too.

Our aim is to inspire more women to be confident when building their careers, and enabling them to achieve their full potential, whatever that may be. Take a chance – what is the worst that can happen?

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