“The original objective of Atomic Women was to connect female students with female Lab employees in the Weapons program and to recruit and retain more women in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields,” remembers Olga Martin, of the Laboratory’s Nuclear Engineering and Nonproliferation Division Office, who co-founded the group in 2007. “The group was meant to last only that first summer, but the results were so rewarding that the Atomic Women continues to this day as an employee resource group. We have no officers, no dues, and no paperwork—our goal is to help women thrive at work, at home, and in the community.”
"We have no officers, no dues, and no paperwork—our goal is to help women thrive at work, at home, and in the community.”
Today’s Atomic Women are involved in everything from book discussions to speed networking. “We also reach out to alma maters and professional societies to connect with students and professors, sharing information about Laboratory internships and employment opportunities,” explains Laura McClellan of Performance Assurance. “We even led a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to boost coverage of notable Los Alamos women scientists on the online encyclopedia.”
The underlying goal of all these activities is to support diversity and inclusion efforts for women at the Laboratory. These efforts are more than addressing gender bias and diversity issues—the Atomic Women are involved in mentoring and career development, cultivating leadership skills, facilitating workplace communication, and ensuring work-life satisfaction.
“Our members work to cultivate a supportive work environment, address issues that concern the group, and encourage and support members in their careers,” Martin says. “We help attract and recruit the next generation of female scientists and engineers, support the Laboratory in its retention efforts, and bolster awareness of work-environment issues.”
McClellan stresses that Atomic Women is open to everyone. “Anyone can join the Atomic Women,” she says. “We encourage everyone to join, as we know that it takes male advocates partnering with us to advance recruitment and retention of women at the Laboratory.”
Laboratory employees interested in joining the Atomic Women should email firstname.lastname@example.org.