11th February marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. When conducting scientific research or planning construction projects, gender does not matter – the content is what matters. However, women are still undeniably underrepresented in scientific disciplines. We want to make female engineers and scientists visible so that, as role models, they can inspire females of all ages.
Nagra welcomes people of all gender identities to work on the project of the century of deep geological disposal. Together, we want to solve a national problem. Even though some of our project managers and team leaders are women: females are still not adequately represented at Nagra.
We want to change this – for example, by offering flexible employment and working conditions and by changing the working environment. One objective that we have achieved is equal pay. Since 2016, the UND association has awarded Nagra a quality label for anchoring the reconciliation of professional and family life as well as equality in its work strategy, structure and culture. UND is committed to reconciling different lifestyles and careers.
Our company culture encourages a respectful working environment and gender equality. We will introduce co-workers involved in this project of the century. Scientists are not just role models one day of the year, which is why it is important to continue introducing them over the coming weeks and months.
Female scientists as role models
Yvonne Schaub is a geographer who obtained her doctorate with a thesis on risk management of natural hazards in high mountain regions. At Nagra, she is Project Manager for the Sectoral Plan and the general licence applications. She is responsible for the report justifying the site selection, which is part of the general licence application for the deep geological repository.
In addition, the post-doctoral scientist is a board member of the association “Girls* on Ice Switzerland”. Twice a year, this organisation conducts excursions to a glacier under the guidance of an all-female team (scientists, artists, mountain guides) who also act as potential role models. The objective is to let participants discover (natural) science for themselves through the shared experience and feeling of community. In addition, “Girls* On Ice” organises workshops and excursions for all school types and grades. Here, young people can gain an insight into the work of female scientists and are encouraged to think critically and consider a scientific career.
*young people identifying as female, non-binary or transgender
What Nagra can learn from the ancient Romans
In a deep geological repository, disposal canisters will safely enclose the waste for several thousands of years. Over time, the canisters will begin to rust. What chemical processes will take place then, and how and where will the rust spread? Two-thousand-year-old nails are to provide some answers to these questions.