Beth Thomas | Better the balance, Better the world

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is more than just a trendy hashtag.

The day is steeped in history and, for just over 100 years, International Women’s Day has been recognised in countries across the globe. For some it’s a chance to protest whilst for others it’s a chance to celebrate and promote gender parity.

The day has proved a powerful force and has prompted many movements for change. This year, IWD promotes #BalanceforBetter and encourages us to notice the absence of gender equality and celebrate its presence.

For me, today is a chance to celebrate the incredible female talent at EDF Energy but also to recognise the progress we still need to make.

What attracted you to a role in the nuclear industry?
Heysham 2 Power Station has always been where I aspired to build a career.

I’ll never forget the tour my parents took me on when I was at school. The vibrant blue cooling ponds fascinated me and I can still remember being stood on top of the reactor with my little sister in awe at the size of the fuelling machine.

A few years later, I spent my work experience at the station and whilst I had a very exciting week, I remember very vividly the day I spent with the then Operations Manager, Gail Brannick.

I remember going to a large meeting and I sat opposite Gail. I remember listening to her intently but understanding none of the endless acronyms she used.

She was the only woman at that table that day, and I remember being incredibly inspired by her technical knowledge and how she held the room. Later that afternoon I quizzed Gail on her career path and I frantically made mental notes of how I could follow in her footsteps.

Unlike my first visit, it wasn’t just the cooling ponds or the fuelling machine that inspired me that week, it was Gail. And it was that encounter at the age of 15 that catapulted me into a firm belief that I could one day be like her.

Twelve years later, I am now a Chemistry Engineer within Operations Department and it is still obvious that we need to continue to inspire gender equality within our business.

Whilst I work in a very diverse team, I still remember that meeting with Gail when I find myself sat in a meeting of my own where I am the only female. Thankfully, this is slowly becoming a rare occurrence and it fills me with joy when I do look around the room and there are a number of female faces looking back at me.

What advice would you give to others?
Never underestimate how much you can inspire others. Perhaps you could be someone’s Gail.


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