In the global nuclear industry, there is still a relatively small share of women in engineering and leadership positions
Women in the UAE are playing a pivotal role in the nuclear energy industry, holding more than 30 per cent in what is often considered a male-dominated workforce, said Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi.
“In a country, that only ten years ago had only one qualified nuclear engineer, this is certainly no small achievement,” said Al Qasimi, the Vice-Chairwoman of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (ENEC) Board of Directors.
On the final day of the International Ministerial Conference – Nuclear Power in the 21st Century held on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Al Qasimi said 23 per cent of the professionals working at ENEC are women, while 10 per cent of all employees at Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, the largest under construction power plant in the word – are also women.
Among them, 21 per cent occupy key roles in the nuclear energy industry, such as senior reactor operator, reactor operator and license operator. “Almost 30 per cent of the students in our educational programmes are female, and 30 per cent of students enrolled in the higher diploma in the nuclear technology programme at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic are also women.”
However, she pointed out that in the global nuclear industry, there is still a relatively small share of women in engineering and leadership positions.
She said that the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme is one of the most diverse and most multi-national and multi-cultural nuclear programme in the world, with over 60 nationalities involved. “We celebrate this diversity and continue to promote understanding and acceptance.”
“Here in the UAE, we strongly believe in the equality of men and women both in the society and in professional development.”
Quoting her own personal example, Al Qasimi said there are many young women who want to pursue a career in science and technology. “It is our role as leaders in the industry to make sure the they are given the opportunities to enter STEM careers and to nurture their potential in different fields.”
In 2009, ENEC launched the Energy Pioneers initiative to identify and train the next generation of UAE national engineers and leaders. The programme provides full scholarships to students looking to study nuclear sciences and engineering. “We trained and qualified the UAE’s first female scientist, who is now the deputy manager of the simulators.”
ENEC also trained and qualified the UAE’s first female nuclear fuel management expert and the UAE’s first female fully-certified reactor operator, who is already preparing for the startup of Barakah Unit One. “Today, there are 61 fully qualified female nuclear engineers employed by ENEC and Nawah.”