In the United States, only about 25% of energy jobs are held by women. Hydropower fares slightly better—women make up about 31% of the industry’s workforce. Meanwhile, workforce statistics are currently being calculated for the nascent marine energy sector. But one thing is clear: The women of water power are working hard to both encourage a new generation of women to join these sectors and advance these critical technologies so they can accelerate the fight to slow climate change. 

To celebrate this year’s Women’s History Month, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) is looking back at some of the hardworking women the office featured over the last year. 

This compilation features water power administrators, chemists, community and stakeholder engagement professionals, policymakers, engineers, an Army veteran, a landscape architect, and more. Readers can explore the different paths these professionals took to reach their current careers in water power. 

Three children posing for a picture with a rocky, somewhat snow-covered landscape behind them.
Jennifer Garson with her siblings at Mount Hood in Oregon during the spring. They would visit when it was warm enough to play in the spring snow.
Image from Jennifer Garson

The Nature Aficionado Who Found a Passion in Clean Energy—Including Water Power 

In college, Jennifer Garson, former WPTO director, studied abroad in Australia and gained hands-on experience with conservation and resource management. In this Q&A profile, Garson shared what Tasmanians taught her about the land, how hydropower helped protect Vermont from catastrophic floods, and what she will miss most about WPTO. 

Chinmayee Subban holds a plaque while posing with three other people
During her time at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Chinmayee Subban won an Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan-Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Fellowship award for her work on electrode materials for fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries.

Why Chinmayee Subban Chose Water Power Over Mushrooms and Guinea Pigs 

Chinmayee Subban is a talker. In this Q&A profile, Subban, a researcher in the Coastal Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, shared what California farmers taught her about water, how marine energy could power carbon capture, and how her 4-year-old daughter helps her gauge the relevance of her research.  

Jen posing in uniform with five of her fellow Army active duty personnel
Although Jen Trimble (leaning down in the front right) took a circuitous career path after she left the Army, she was always searching for a job that let her serve a "bigger picture."
Photo courtesy of Jen Trimble

Why Jen Trimble Thinks You Should Know All About Water Power 

In 2005, Jen Trimble was deployed to Iraq for 15 months. She worked in operations logistics, shepherding supplies like food and medicine to military bases and Iraqi citizens alike. “It opened my eyes,” said Trimble, operations manager for WPTO, in this Q&A profile. She also shared her childhood career aspirations, what she was told to never say in an interview, and why minorities should give water power a second (or first) look. 

A young Maxine Hillman sits in a fort made out of boxes.
As a child, Maxine Hillman created fantasy worlds full of dragons, wizards, and knights. Today, she still builds worlds; only now, they’re full of hydropower and marine energy instead of sprites and otters.
Photo courtesy of Maxine Hillman

Otters, TV Sets, and Water Power: The Many Worlds of Maxine Hillman 

Beside the house, along a passageway overgrown with bushes, and just below the kitchen window: That’s where the fairies lived. Or at least that’s where Maxine Hillman wanted them to live! In this Q&A profile, Hillman, a communications contractor at WPTO, shared why she wasn’t satisfied with TV pupuserías, which fictional schoolteacher she aspires to be, and why she’s invested in hydropower and marine energy. 

woman sitting on wave energy device
Julie Mai hangs out behind the scenes at CalWave's headquarters as the team prepares for a wave energy pilot deployment.
Photo courtesy of Julie Mai

A Rising Tide: Women in Water Power 

In 2023, WPTO celebrated Women’s History Month with six impressive women. Each shared how they found water power (even with backgrounds in fields like Spanish literature and landscape architecture), how the industry could attract more women, and what excites them most about water power’s future. “My passion for human rights, education, healthcare, and social equity led me to lean into the water power world, where I see innovation as one of the greatest ways to tackle the energy and climate crisis and its impacts,” said Julie Mai (pictured here).  

Emma Wendt standing on the deck of a ferry still in a harbor with a metal and rubber ferry docking station in the background.
Maine’s island communities are already facing significant climate change impacts, including rising sea levels that threaten to split their land in two. Emma Wendt helps these communities transition to cleaner and more resilient and affordable energy.
Photo courtesy of Emma Wendt, Island Institute

How Emma Wendt, a Conscientious Consumer, Is Helping Maine Fight Climate Change With Marine Energy (and More) 

Growing up in a small, rural fishing community in Nova Scotia, Canada, Emma Wendt was consumed with the idea of consumption. “We preserved a lot, which came from a strong immigrant mentality,” Wendt said in this Q&A profile. She also shared how she helped an oyster farmer transition to renewable energy and why she sees water power as an important part of the clean energy puzzle. 

Nina Joffe picks up trash from her local beach into three buckets.
In the Water Power Technologies Office, Joffe is helping communities coexist better with the Earth, which is far from a new role.
Photo courtesy of Nina Joffe

How the Lorax and the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid Led Nina Joffe to Water Power 

Nina Joffe grew up among skyscrapers, traffic, and factories—a world that reminded her of Dr. Suess’ The Lorax; in fact, it was the kind of world the Lorax warned about. In this Q&A profile, Joffe, who is now a power-at-sea marine scientist at WPTO, shared how she fell for nature’s “magnificent” symbiosis, as she calls it, and how she’s working to build a symbiotic relationship among communities, clean energy, and the ocean. 

Sarah Moore standing on a trail in Arizona with cliffs, cacti, and scrub brush behind her
If you really want to solve important problems, you need more than the math and science you learn in a classroom,” said Sarah Moore, a 2021 AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellow, who uses her engineering (and people) skills to help communities.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Moore

Why Sarah Moore Believes We Need More Than Math and Science to Solve Problems Like Climate Change 

In 2015, Sarah Moore traveled to a rural community in the Andes mountains to install solar-powered showers and latrines. When she left, the community had just one shower and no latrines. In this Q&A profile, Moore, who now supports DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, shared how she uses her engineering skills to serve communities and previously helped assess the value of an irrigation system in the Dominican Republic, solar-powered water treatment in the Navajo Nation, and more.

Catch up on WPTO's other Ripple Effect profiles and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Clean Energy Champions.

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