Women In Nuclear - trying to give a human face to nuclear technology

'Women In Nuclear'

This week the South Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov is hosting an annual meeting of an interesting international organisation. It is called Women in Nuclear and is a worldwide association of women working in the nuclear field.

Following in the footsteps of Marie Curie and other prominent women nuclear physicists, the organisation Women in Nuclear aims to fight the preconception that women and nuclear technology don't go together. Edita Dufkova is a student specialising in plasma physics.

"This is an organisation of women working in nuclear energy or nuclear technologies or women who sympathise with nuclear technology and they are not afraid of nuclear technology and they want to explain to other women what the technology looks like: that it is simple, that it is safe and there is no reason to be afraid of it."

The smiling atom - the logo of the organisation - is meant to emphasise the message that nuclear and radiation technologies and applications are beneficial for mankind. WIN is aware that women, as mothers, are often most concerned about nuclear safety, but it argues that for just this reason they can also be easy targets for anti-nuclear scaremongering. With her hobbies of flower-arranging and alternative medicine, you might be mistaken for thinking that university teacher and mother-of-two Lenka Thinova represents an anti-nuclear pressure group, but in fact she travels around the Czech Republic trying to demystify nuclear technology, and encourage people not to see it just in a negative light.

"Every woman tries to protect her family and is afraid of everything that might harm it. Public opinion is very much influenced by the Chernobyl disaster and it is very difficult to improve. Especially mothers, who have to go to work, take care of their children and their parents, don't have the time to look for information. We try to bring the information to them."

Young girls are generally not attracted to studying nuclear physics. For example, the Czech Republic's only female nuclear power plant operator, Ivana Kunova, was one of only two women who graduated in her class of 60 people. The President of Women in Nuclear Czech, nuclear fuel expert Larisa Dubska, says she hopes that through its activities, her organisation can attract more young women to atomic science.

"I think it would be very nice if more young girls go to this field and I hope - I believe - that we are participating in this."