International Women's Day

8 March 2017

The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day on 8 March focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. Challenging stereotypes and breaking down disadvantages in the world of work is a central aspect in women’s economic empowerment. The CTBTO is strongly committed to contributing to gender equality by creating better chances for women in the world of work.

With women making up over 40 % of all CTBTO staff, the Organization is on the right track towards achieving gender parity, and fares well compared with other international  - and especially technical/scientific – organizations. There are 60 women scientists working for the CTBTO in the world’s remotest corners to build and maintain our monitoring stations, working long hours to screen vast amounts of data for suspicious events, and developing new methods of analysis and management practices.
At the personal and professional level, I am proud to serve an organization that places special emphasis on gender balance.


On this occasion we have prepared an interview with a leading female scientist working at the CTBTO, the Director of International Monitoring System Division, Nürcan Meral Özel.

What is your position at the CTBTO? Nurcan Meral Özel: "Since the International Monitoring System (IMS)  is targeting to complete its global  observation infrastructures, my main responsibilities as Division Director are  planning, coordinating and directing the programme of particular activities for the completion and sustainment of this  extraordinary monitoring system. I am also responsible to follow the latest engineering technology developments on sensor, design and communication, and respective applications to the system. I assess and interpret policy issues, oversee implementation of these policies, establish procedures and practices to improve effectiveness and efficiency, and respond to concerns relevant to the work of the Division. In addition, I monitor performance, appraise the achievements of goals set within the Division, and oversee the process of examination of risks and prospects with a view to enhancing coordination, team work, and maximum utilization of all resources allocated to the Division. Of course, to accomplish all of this, I work closely with my colleagues in the other Divisions, as well as with Member States to ensure that the IMS Network provides effective services as required by the Treaty."

Nurcan Meral Özel, Director of CTBTO's International Monitoring System Division

What makes working at the CTBTO fulfilling? "I enjoy working at the CTBTO first of all because of what it stands for: a nuclear-test-free world that serves the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world. CTBTO provides the ideal setting to combine knowledge acquired through science and then see it implemented on the ground, covering a vast number of countries, involving different people, at all levels, and at the same time positively impacting our environment. At the personal and professional level, I am proud to serve an organization that places special emphasis on gender balance. Achieving gender parity is one of the issues that all CTBT State Signatories agree upon. As an Organization, we are committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity and we place particular emphasis to improving the representation of women in the professional category."

What does science mean to you? "Science makes me feel like a dynamic element of the dynamic world we live in. It is a universal language that enables many people to come together and arrive at solutions or discoveries together. You can also work on a single issue, alone or with a small group and affect the lives of millions in a positive way."

Do you have any advice to young women wishing to embark on a career in science? "My message to girls and young women is that they should always remember that science ensures world progress, and women definitely have a part to play. My advice to girls studying science would be: Do not see yourself and do not let others see you as a woman scientist only; see yourself as a scientist!

Be yourself, be factual, be intuitive, and most importantly, be confident. Be the one that pushes the limits, never be discouraged at the first, second, third attempt at achieving what inspires you.  As Albert Einstein puts it: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
Women were and are the driving force behind the ban on nuclear testing. The civil society movements that pushed for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 and its predecessors were to a large extent grounded in women’s initiatives. We can never forget Dr. Louise Reiss, the scientist who helped to convince President John F. Kennedy to conclude the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty through her ground-breaking Baby Tooth Study.

Women at CTBTO

CTBTO is committed to promoting gender parity and recruiting and developing women, enabling them to achieve their full potential.

Achieving gender parity and ending gender bias can be in particularly challenging for women in science, technology and engineering. To advance the aim of full and equal access to science for women and girls, CTBTO recently started a campaign highlighting some of the brilliant women scientists of CTBTO.
Below are some of the recent profiles of these scientists. Women of CTBTO come from different regions and have diverse backgrounds, but they all share one common passion: to put an end to nuclear testing.