Women continue to be underrepresented in the field of nuclear security, and when they join it, they often find it difficult to excel or, in some cases, even be heard. To examine this disparity and explore ways to empower women in the field and make it more welcoming to female experts, CRDF Global held a panel discussion this month, “Breaking Barriers: Women in Nuclear Security.”
NTI president Joan Rohlfing and 2017 CRDF Global Robin Copeland Memorial Fellow Urvashi Rathore were invited to share their experiences building careers in nuclear security. Kathy Crandall Robinson of Women in International Security also joined the panel, as did Paul Longsworth, former NNSA Deputy Administrator and Vice President of Fluor Corporation. Susan King, director of the nuclear security program at CRDF Global, moderated the panel.
King opened the discussion by noting that “diversity breeds innovation.” She challenged panelists to think about how the nuclear security community can break down stereotypes that impede women in the workplace.
Drawing attention to a method used by female staff at the White House, Rohlfing suggested that women should make a point to amplify each other’s voices in the workplace when they notice a colleague’s point of view not receiving the attention it deserves. Saying, “I really want to hear from so-and-so about this,” is one way to do it, Rohlfing said. Longsworth noted that men also have a role to play, advising them to be aware of instances when women’s ideas are discounted or ignored in meetings.