Nukefest17's Women of Mass Destruction Break Barriers

I’m proud to be a woman working on WMD issues. Several of my early mentors in the field were women, and I’ve been fortunate to see several close female peers and colleagues rise through the ranks in their organizations. Today, I’m proud to work at an organization with an exceptional ratio of women to men (2:1) under the leadership of President Joan Rohlfing and Executive Vice President Deborah Rosenblum. But I know that NTI is unusual in the field, and I know that women in leadership positions wasn’t always the norm. As one woman at yesterday’s event put it, When I started out in this sector over 25 years ago, I’d be the only woman among 30 people in a room.” She and many others worked for decades to ensure that women have a voice on these issues. 

For all of these reasons and more, I was excited to attend the Women in Mass Destruction side event at the 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. The event was organized by Heather Williams (King’s College London), Alexandra Bell (Council for a Livable World), and Chantal de Jonge Oudraat (Women in International Security), and it brought together women (and men!) with varying levels of experience and diverse roles in the sector to share their stories and perspectives, and to come up with recommendations on how to continue advancing the role of women in WMD. 

The organizers broke us up into small groups. My group discussed barriers for women trying to enter the field, such as increasing competition for a limited number of positions. Although some women said they have noticed an increase in the number of younger women in the sector, they recommended that individuals and organizations make more deliberate and effective efforts to bring women in through formal mentoring programs. My group also recommended cross-sector and cross-generational leadership and skills training to help women learn from each other about what skillsets are needed for various jobs.

My recommendation is that we work to keep this conversation going. The event was an excellent addition to Nukefest17, and I hope to see more like it in the future. 

March 22, 2017
Rachel Staley Grant
Rachel Staley Grant

Director of Public Education

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