Biologist Mary Olson is clear her life’s mission is to bring to light to the disproportionate impact of radiation on girls and women.

Through her work as a staff biologist and policy analyst at  Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Olson has spent decades working for greater health and greater protection for people in communities impacted by nuclear activities. She has studied radiation health consequences with some of the leading radiation researchers of the 20th Century including Bertell, Stewart, Caldicott, and Wing. She was also featured in the educational film The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age.

After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, Olson decided to pursue questions about greater harm to girls and women from ionizing exposures. From a study of survivors of US nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki compiled over sixty years, Olson learned there is 

measurably greater harm from radiation to girls and women. Olson’s briefing paper on the subject has formed the basis of her core work ever since and has led to several speaking engagements worldwide.

In 2014, she presented at the Vienna Conference on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons and in 2015, she spoke at the United Nations during a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 2016, she was a featured speaker during a five-week tour of Japan and spoke on the medical consequences of nuclear weapons at an event sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Russia and presented as a featured panelist at the Gender Summit 9 in Brussels.

In 2017, the same year the Nobel Prize was awarded to The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Olson returned to the United Nations to present during negotiations on a new global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, whose preamble was written to include a reference to gender and radiation. In 2018, Olson spoke at the Gender Summit 15 in London and participated in two events in Scotland - the first with the Union of Radio Ecologists who research the impact of radiation in the environment and the second at the Low-Dose Radiation Conference at the University of Stirling.

She continues to receive requests to address international and governmental agencies on the subject of gender and ionizing radiation.

Olson’s background in biology, biochemistry, and her own experience with radioactive contamination as a young woman has put her in a unique position to speak publicly on radiation policy from a health, safety, and humanitarian perspective. She hopes to inspire cancer prevention strategies worldwide that will contribute to more successful reproduction and viability of future generations. 

Click this Blog link to learn more about the history of the Gender and Radiation Impact Project.

Email Mentor Mary Olson for mentoring and collaboration opportunities.

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