Department of Energy

Investing in Our Future by Empowering Women and Girls in STEM

January 10, 2017

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Women in STEM: Deputy Secretary of Energy Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall

From working for Senator Biden to working in nuclear nonproliferation at the Department of Defense to serving as a national security advisor to President Obama, Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall has an impressive resume. While at the Department, she’s visited all 17 of our National Labs, met with energy leaders around the world and joined the world of twitter. A big believer in public service, Dr. Sherwood-Randall encourages young men and women to consider careers in service. | Video by Simon Edelman, Energy Department.

America’s national and economic security depends on innovation. At the Department of Energy, we believe that innovation is driven by diverse perspectives, so one of our top priorities is expanding the STEM talent pipeline to include people who bring new ideas to the table. An important part of this effort is focused on women and girls, who are historically underrepresented in STEM careers both within the Department and in industry and academia.

As we transition to a new Administration, I want to share the path we have charted for increasing representation of women in STEM fields through ongoing efforts to attract the brightest minds to projects and issues where they can make a tremendous impact.

First, we know that role models and mentors help young women visualize themselves as STEM professionals. The Energy Department has produced a series of online profiles called Women @ Energy that not only provide successful role models for future women in STEM, but also showcase the range of opportunities a STEM education makes possible.

The Department will also continue to be a partner in leading the successful STEM Mentoring Café series this year, which will engage more middle and high school students and educators in mentoring sessions with federal employees and private sector STEM professionals. The Café series gives historically underrepresented and underserved groups, including girls and women, a window into these careers and builds a network of support and ongoing mentorship for students who are interested in studying and practicing STEM.

Supportive communities are another key to helping women succeed in STEM. Our National Laboratories are engaged with their home communities in order to leverage the talent they house to the benefit of local students. One example is Argonne National Laboratory’s ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,’ which opens the lab to young female students and connects them with our scientists and engineers.  

Most recently, the Energy Department’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity developed a Girls of Energy e-book and webpage, which are designed to ignite students' curiosity in energy science by showcasing exceptional women who are conquering today’s energy challenges and creating tomorrow’s technology solutions. These resources will engage students in exciting STEM activities that explore cutting-edge research and technology being developed at the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and sites. We launched Girls of Energy last month at an event that included hands-on STEM activities for 125 Excel Academy students, and in the future these tools will catalyze similar activities, discussions and a passion for science and energy in classrooms across the country.

Empowering women and girls to develop their STEM talents will make the United States stronger and safer as we meet tomorrow’s challenges. From advanced energy systems to medicine and cybersecurity to nuclear nonproliferation, women’s voices are critical to the innovation we depend on for our security and prosperity. The Energy Department will continue to lead the way to make energy and other STEM fields accessible to the next generation of female leaders.