Headshot of a woman smiling.
Kelly Speakes-Backman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy

Did you know that, to date, women represent more than 60% of the Biden-Harris Administration’s appointees to the Department of Energy (DOE)? Secretary Jennifer Granholm, our nation’s 16th Secretary of Energy, is the second woman to hold the office.

For Women’s History Month 2021, DOE celebrated its commitment to advancing women’s participation and leadership in the energy workforce by honoring inspirational women leading climate action and reflecting on what International Women’s Day means to women in DOE leadership. A common theme arose from many of these discussions—that women in science and technology are often inspired by other women—and we must continue to honor their important contributions so young girls everywhere recognize their limitless potential.

Headshot of a woman smiling.
Jenna Rackovan, Fisheries Biologist at Alden and Fish Protection Prize finalist

At the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), opportunities for women in leadership start at the top—the office of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Speakes-Backman. Leading EERE in advancing Biden’s climate priorities and creating a clean energy future for the American people, Speakes-Backman oversees the organization’s multibillion-dollar annual portfolio of research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities.

Speakes-Backman noted that she’s fortunate to work with incredible women in the national laboratories and programs, stating “ ... all of these amazing women, from all walks of life, bringing their best game, to helping bring a clean energy economy to bear.” A growing number of these women are working in hydropower and marine energy.

Picture of a female in climbing gear with mountains in the background.
Robynne Murray, Research Engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Women in water power are shaping the future of energy. In both the private and public sectors, they are advancing WPTO’s leading-edge efforts to solve pressing problems at the nexus of energy and water.

Take Jenna Rackovan, a fisheries biologist at Alden Research Lab and a Fish Protection Prize finalist. Her love for fish led to her career as a fisheries biologist. In this video, Jenna explains how the Fish Entrainment Reduction Structure that she and her team developed helps advance WPTO’s goal to protect fish traveling through water infrastructure.

Meet Robynne Murray, a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Pulled by the tides toward her professional calling, Murray has long been fascinated with the prospect of harnessing the ocean’s power. In this video interview, she describes her work validating and developing new materials and advanced manufacturing methods for making marine renewable energy technologies more cost-effective.

Girls and Women in STEM wishing to follow in the footsteps of women like Jenna and Robynne can explore opportunities in water power through the hydropower and marine energy STEM portals, where they’ll find a variety of resources, including educational materials and information on career pathways and training programs.

The Water Power Technologies Office, like the rest of DOE, recognizes the significant impact of women in energy, and we appreciate the many inspirational women in energy and water power. Sharing a few of these women’s passion and insights could equip and inspire a new generation of women to contribute to a cleaner, more equitable energy future.

Program Spotlight: Julie Keil Leaves a Legacy of Advocating for Energy and the Environment

The Hydropower Foundation established the Julie Keil Scholarship for Women in honor of a passionate leader known for balancing the interests of the hydropower community with innovative environmental protection and enhancements. Julie was a tireless advocate for expanding opportunities for women to work in the industry she loved.