Paducah Women of Steel Lead Community Engagement and Empowerment

The Women of Steel (WOS) group from USW Local 550 in Paducah, Ky., is making strides to support the tight-knit Western Kentucky community while promoting greater women's participation and leadership in the nuclear industry.

Leading the charge as WOS Director since August 2022, Jacquie Wright, a radiation control technician at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant, hopes the WOS group can help empower women in an industry traditionally dominated by men and encourage more women to apply for jobs at the plant.

“Local 550’s female membership is 20 percent,” said Wright. “I sure hope we can increase that number.”

Giving back

In less than a year, the WOS group raised significant funds for charities like Toys for Tots, Book for Hope, Starfish Ministry, Sunrise Children's Services, and Cassidy's Cause, generating over $7,000 through their inaugural site-wide partnership luncheon and bake sale.

Building upon their accomplishments, the Women of Steel intend to transform the initiative into an annual event. The group of around 50 active members also receives support from male volunteers who are proud members of USW Local 550.

Beyond fundraising, the WOS group engages in community outreach, assembling essential toiletry bags for the homeless and organizing a charity golf scramble and basketball tournament to raise funds and foster participation among Local 550 members.

Empowering next generations

With a rich background of 28 years in the medical field where she specialized in radiation control, Wright acknowledges the USW’s vital role in advocating for workers’ safety, and she firmly believes that the Women of Steel can make a lasting impact on addressing the gender imbalance within the atomic industry.

“We want the numbers of women in the field to go up, and we want women to know that there are jobs in radiation control that they can do just like the men can do,” said Wright.

Wright recently participated in a local high school career day, demonstrating how to use radiation control instruments and enlightening students about the opportunities available to them, and to women in particular, in the atomic industry.

USW Local 550, in conjunction with the Tony Mazzocchi Center and the local community, developed a Radiation Control Technician training program that has been instrumental in filling a void of radiation technicians at DOE sites across the country.

“This training program gives students a unique opportunity to obtain an education in a non-traditional setting while making a competitive wage,” said Wright.

Wright and her dedicated USW co-workers demonstrate unwavering commitment to public and worker safety through their diligent testing and proper handling of radiological waste at the site. Now, their efforts extend beyond safety as they embrace equity and community engagement, amplifying their impact and driving positive change within the nuclear industry.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-6961

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222