The application process has opened for female students interested in applying for a scholarship from the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP) towards their Master’s degrees in nuclear science and technology, nuclear safety and security or non-proliferation. The fellowship will provide scholarships for up to 100 selected applicants annually, to help enhance the pool of qualified young women in the nuclear field. It also aims to support an inclusive workforce of both men and women for the future, contributing to global scientific and technological innovation from all over the world as diversity gives opportunity to greater creativity and productivity. Candidates have until midnight on 11 October 2020 to apply for the first 100 scholarships.
“Nuclear science and technology is an exciting discipline, because it is not something abstract, but part of everyday life,” said Dr Tatjana Jevremovic, Chair of the MSCFP Technical Selection Committee and a nuclear engineer at the IAEA. “The best known nuclear technologies are those used in medicine and for the production of electricity, but there are also many other applications such as in food industry and agriculture, space travel, airport security, climate change, environment protection and art, to mention just a few. By getting involved in the nuclear field, young women can make real difference to everyday life and contribute to making the world a better place for all.”
A skilled workforce is essential for the development of nuclear science and technology as well as for realizing its innovation and productivity potential. Demand for science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) skills is high and will continue to grow to meet the modern world’s need for innovation and economic growth. Women have long played an important role in nuclear science and technology. The MSCFP programme is named after pioneer physicist and twice recipient of the Nobel Prize, Marie Skłodowska-Curie. Her pioneering work on radioactivity in the late 1800s enabled the world to harness the power of the atom, producing countless benefits for humankind. Many other women scientists made and continue to make remarkable scientific discoveries and advancements.
Speaking via video message at the launch of the fellowship programme in March 2020, Hélène Langevin-Joliot, nuclear physicist and Marie Skłodowska-Curie’s granddaughter, said: “Marie Skłodowska-Curie was deeply convinced of the equal capacities of women and men in science. […] She would have certainly hoped for much more rapid progress of the women’s place in science.”
Still, women continue to comprise a minority of professionals working in the nuclear sector worldwide. Women often face barriers to enter and progress in STEM fields, right from their school years. By enabling more women from around the world to complete their studies in nuclear science, technology, safety, security and non‑proliferation, the IAEA MSCFP can contribute to closing the persistent gender gap in the nuclear field.
Applicants awarded the MSCFP scholarship will be given up to 10,000 euros per year for covering tuition fee and up to 10,000 euros for supporting their living costs based on the costs of living at the university’s location, for a maximum of a two-year period of study. Scholarships will be awarded each year to 100 students, subject to the availability of funds. Successful candidates will also be provided with an opportunity to pursue an internship at the IAEA relating to their field of study.
“The nuclear field is extremely versatile and the opportunities it offers are many, if not unlimited,” said Jevremovic. “These range from novel therapies for cancer and screenings for epidemics, to water and soil management, environmental plastics research, industrial radiography and forensics. It could also involve designing and building a new generation of nuclear power reactors that can produce even more clean electricity using less resources to power the socioeconomic development in the world while combating climate change.”
The IAEA promotes greater engagement of women in the nuclear field by enhancing their participation in education and training courses, workshops, fellowships and scientific visits and regional nuclear education networks. The MSCFP takes these efforts a step further, aiming to help build up gender‑balanced capacities in national and world-wide nuclear energy and nuclear applications programmes, including nuclear safety and nuclear security.
“The education system has a critically important role in starting a healthy pipeline of nuclear professionals,” said Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, who is managing the IAEA MSCFP initiative. “Attracting women and girls to nuclear science and technology, and providing an environment for them to thrive and progress in, is an important lever for meeting the demand for a skilled workforce in this field.”
The fellowship programme is open to female students from IAEA Member States who have been accepted or are enrolled in a Master’s programme at an accredited university. Consideration will be given to geographic distribution, the field of study distribution and linguistic diversity.