Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative


Welcome to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) Online Resource for Young Women in Nonproliferation! This site features articles, learning tools, and resources for women who are interested in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It is maintained through CNS’s Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative and is part of a larger effort to expose more women at US colleges and universities to WMD-related issues and careers.

This website is a dynamic resource that changes regularly. It is not comprehensive but seeks instead to highlight diverse voices and perspectives on gender and nonproliferation. If you have suggestions about resources, tools, or opportunities for us to consider including, please email [email protected].

Did you know?

Despite making up roughly half the world’s population, women comprise a minority of professionals working in the field of WMD nonproliferation and disarmament. This gender gap cuts across industries and national borders.  In 2019, the National Nuclear Security Administration reported that women comprised 32.6% of its workforce. That same year, women made up less than 30% of registered delegates at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting. According to the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, women represent just 32% of participants on average across multilateral nonproliferation and disarmament fora. The IAEA reports that women make up less than a quarter of the nuclear workforce globally.

This imbalance is unlikely to change without deliberate action. As we found in 2019, the gender gap among WMD policy professionals is also visible in the college classroom. According to a survey of US-based college professors, the majority of students who enroll in undergraduate-level courses on WMD-related issues are men. The impact of this gender imbalance on the career pipeline is exacerbated by the fact that undergraduates have relatively few opportunities to WMD policy in general.

It is imperative that we address this gender gap for many reasons.

First, diverse teams generate better outcomes than homogeneous teams. Without gender diversity, the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction become that much harder to address effectively.

Second, women are frequently characterized as victims, not agents, in the international security space. If this perception does not change, women will remain on the periphery of policy-making with respect to WMD-related issues.

Third, a nuclear detonation would affect women just as much as, and in different ways than, men. Women deserve an equal voice in decision-making about nuclear weapons.

What is CNS doing about this?

CNS launched its Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative in 2018 to bring WMD nonproliferation and disarmament issues to more women at US colleges and universities. Through these efforts, we hope to encourage young women to consider careers with this focus. In addition to maintaining this online resource, CNS also conducts events at US colleges and universities and matches undergraduate women who are interested in this field with mentors. If you or someone you know would like more information about this program, please email [email protected].