Japan ranked lowest for the ratio of women employed in the nuclear sector among 17 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a recent survey by an OECD agency showed.

In 2021, just 15 percent of Japan's nuclear workforce was comprised of women. Norway had the highest representation of women in the sector at around 60 percent, while France and Britain both recorded around 24.9 percent, the average figure for the 17 countries surveyed, according to the report by the Nuclear Energy Agency.

Students take part in a recruiting event organized by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum in Tokyo in October 2022. (Kyodo)

The average percentage of women in Japan who have been promoted stood at around 14 percent, compared with the overall level of 27.1 percent.

The survey also highlighted the deep disparity in salaries of women and men in the nuclear sector. In Japan, women were paid about 26 percent less than men on average, while among the 12 countries which provided comparable data, men were paid 5.2 percent more.

The Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which was involved in the latest survey, attributed the low level of pay in Japan to an "extremely low" ratio of women in upper management and executive positions.

Yukiko Okada, an official of the commission, said, "We need diversity as we aim for a safer technology. It is a waste not to make use of women's capabilities."

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology and Nuclear Regulation Authority were the respondents for Japan to the Nuclear Energy Agency survey.

The agency said that challenges faced by women in the nuclear sector include having to deal with emergencies and tight shift work. It also cited the lack of female leaders and the perception that work in the sector is mainly for men.

But there have been signs of improvement in the gender gap in the sector in Japan, with the survey showing that women represented around 27 percent of new hires, around the same level as the 17 countries' average of 28.8 percent.