(Reprinted with permission from ANS News, January/February 2020, p. 2)
ANS President Marilyn Kray is one of more than 40 men and women who have joined Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy (GCNP), a group that is uniting leaders of nuclear policy organizations who have committed to work toward gender equality within their spheres of influence.
The importance of diversity in ANS has already been affirmed by the formation of the Diversity and Inclusion in ANS (DIA) Committee in 2018 (ANS News, Sept./Oct. 2018, p. 6), and by the release, also in 2018, of a revised ANS position statement on “Diversity and Inclusion in the Nuclear Profession.”
Kray’s participation in GCNP was recommended by the DIA Committee, according to Leah Parks, a committee member and a member of the ANS Board of Directors. Like all GCNP signatories, Kray has adopted a personal “panel parity pledge.”
“As a Gender Champion, I made a pledge to ensure that I speak on panels that are represented by both genders,” Kray said. “To be candid, this has been an easy pledge to uphold. There are qualified and articulate subject matter experts in the field of nuclear energy from both genders. As it happens, the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, and the chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute are all women. We are often speaking at the same conference or on the same panel. It is an honor and pleasure to present alongside these amazing women.”
In addition, Kray has pledged to work within ANS to define the role of session organizers and chairs in encouraging balanced participation during panel sessions, enforce ANS’s Respectful Behavior Policy at meetings, and ensure that spaces and settings used for networking are open to all genders. Progress on the pledge commitments will be reported annually to GCNP.
The DIA Committee plans to track gender representation on panels at ANS national meetings and develop guidelines to help panel organizers improve diversity. The committee is also considering working with ANS staff to create a list of people who would like to be considered as experts on certain topics. The list would make finding speakers easier for those who may want to include more diversity on their panels but have had a hard time finding people to invite.
“It’s a positive feedback cycle, so this list would hopefully help jump-start that cycle for people who are having trouble getting invited to speak on topics,” Parks said.
Lane Carasik is currently serving as committee chair. “The DIA Committee is focused on ensuring that the voices of under-represented groups are heard—from technical sessions to Board of Directors meetings—during this transitional phase of the Society and into the future,” he said. “We are hosting events such as panel sessions, workshops, and socials to show members that ANS will be a welcoming and inclusive Society for all nuclear science and technology professionals.”
The DIA Committee also provides travel grants to support the attendance of members from underrepresented groups at ANS national meetings.
During the 2019 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., the DIA hosted two activities—human bingo and marshmallow tower building—that were designed to facilitate networking in a fun and inclusive way. Kray and Vice President/President-Elect Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar served as emcees for both events. Human bingo participants mingled and strove to meet individuals who reflect the broad diversity of ANS members. Marshmallow tower builders were under periodic orders to “Scramble!” and join a different building team, ensuring that many people had the opportunity to work together.
“We had a higher turnout than expected,” said Kalin Kiesling, a member of the DIA Committee. “Human bingo in particular was a hit, and people met and talked with a lot of people they normally wouldn’t. I received a lot of positive feedback from attendees.”