Breaking the glass ceiling: CTBTO head on promoting gender parity in IGC podcast

The latest episode of the International Gender Champions (IGC) podcast series features Robert Floyd, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Titled “Removing Roadblocks and Cultivating Female Talent”, this episode focuses on breaking down barriers for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“As the head of the Organization, I have the opportunity to promote, profile and prioritise some of these gender issues,” said Floyd, who is also an International Gender Champion.

During his interview with Hannah Reinl, a representative from the IGC Secretariat in Geneva, the Executive Secretary discussed the issue of underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. A 2021 UNESCO report shows that only 28 percent of the world's researchers are women, indicating a significant gender disparity in these professions.

Floyd explained that research suggests “men are more comfortable with self-promotion than women, leading them to view themselves as more competitive and qualified for certain positions.”

To address this imbalance and improve women's representation in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament fields, the CTBTO has implemented initiatives aimed at encouraging women to consider the Organization as a desirable workplace.

One such approach is the CTBTO Mentoring Programme, which supports early-career women from underrepresented geographical regions. It provides them with coaching from staff members and offers a series of workshops and seminars. The objective is to broaden the experiences, skills, and exposure of the mentees, to facilitate their personal and professional growth.

Additionally, to mark International Women's Day in March, the CTBTO hosted a virtual panel discussion featuring five accomplished women at different stages of their careers. They offered diverse perspectives and valuable advice based on their backgrounds in nuclear non-proliferation.

During the 23-minute podcast, Floyd also mentioned the CTBTO Youth Group (CYG) – a global network of some 1200 young people from over 120 countries who are actively promoting the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its verification regime. Although the group is open to individuals of all genders, it is particularly relevant for women in the early stages of their career as it helps to “establish a pipeline” and foster an understanding of important issues.

At present, women occupy 40 percent of the CTBTO's professional and higher-level positions. The Organization aims to increase women's presence, particularly in technical fields, with the ultimate goal of achieving gender parity.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Robert Floyd during IGC podcast recording

IGC Secretariat representative Hannah Reinl interviewing Floyd

Cover of IGC podcast's episode, featuring Floyd