Dare to be Bold

Wednesday, March 13, the Washington DC U.S. WIN chapter hosted an evening reception* at the NRC’s annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC).  The RIC is open to the public and gathers representatives of international bodies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations from various sectors across the nuclear industry.  At the conference, the participants focus on the biggest issues facing nuclear power today.  With such a broad scope and wide range of attendees, it is one of the best venues to discuss the ever-changing needs of the nuclear industry.

With March being Women’s History Month, DC U.S. WIN invited Aleshia Duncan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Office of International Cooperation, to speak at the reception.  Ms. Duncan is dedicated to advancing women in nuclear and has mentored hundreds of young women through NEA workshops around the globe.  Her speech, “Dare to Be Bold,” centered around the idea that we need to challenge the ways the nuclear industry attracts and retains women and minorities.  No longer only able to participate as secretaries and administrative managers, women can and should be included in all areas of the nuclear field; everything from maintaining the current fleet to designing the reactors of the future.  Women are highly invested in STEM and it is to the nuclear industry’s benefit to vigorously employ and advance women.

Ms. Duncan spoke about the importance of advocating for women and minorities in the areas in which we work.  For example, she encouraged those who speak at conferences to review the panel composition to ensure the panel is diverse.  She shared an example where she had challenged panel composition and was met with excuses.  When she pushed back, the obstacles were overcome, yielding a discussion driven by a diversity of experiences that were critical to the conversation.  We are all responsible for advocating for women and people of color to further the diversity of ideas and to strengthen the industry and challenge the ways in which we work.  She also empowered the audience to consider expanding the search for qualified candidates and discussed the importance of considering non-traditional backgrounds.

The future of nuclear must include all of us and representation of all those it impacts.  It was exciting to hear Ms. Duncan encourage us to be audacious in pursuit of this future.

*DC U.S. WIN thanks our event sponsors: Helion, Hogan Lovells, MPR Associates, LLC, and Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).