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Remarks As Prepared by Secretary Brouillette

Women’s History Month

Washington, DC

March 2020

 

Thank you for that kind introduction.

 

Let me begin by thanking the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity along with the POWER employee resource group for hosting today’s Women’s History Month event.

 

I’d like to share some thoughts about today’s theme – Women in STEM: Be Brave, Be Bold, Be Fearless.

That’s a powerful mantra, and one that I absolutely believe our workforce embodies.

 

Let me give you just a few shining examples.

 

Dr. Bette Korber joined Los Alamos National Laboratory’s theoretical biology group in 1990, and she became the first female E.O. Lawrence Award winner for her research delineating the genetic characteristics of the human immunodeficiency virus – or HIV. 

 

Dr. Korber’s work has made it possible for several HIV vaccines to start development, all of which are now in human clinical trials. 

 

Lianne “Lee” Russell spent 50 years at our Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and studied the effects of radiation exposure. 

 

She was the first to discover that the Y chromosome determines maleness in mammals.

 

She was also the first to make the case for protecting embryos during X-rays so they are not exposed to harmful levels of radiation.

 

Dr. Jill Trewhella personally advised President George W. Bush on the detection of bio-threat agents, and was named the first female Laboratory Fellow in 1999 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the leader of the Lab’s Bioscience Division in 2000. 

 

Former Lab Director John Browne described her as, and I quote, “one of those unique scientists who comes along only about once every decade” in reference to her supreme talent.

 

Dr. Jill Hruby, the first woman to lead Sandia --our nation’s largest national laboratory -- started at the Lab in 1983 working on thermal and fluid sciences, solar energy, nuclear weapon component R&D, and many more vital energy issues.  

 

We shared many of these great stories on energy.gov, and in a video from our first female Administrator of the NNSA, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty – another incredibly talented and impressive woman at DOE.

 

Each of these examples represents a “first” for women, but truth be told, our society must do more.

 

The fact is, we have a serious, longstanding shortage of professionals pursuing STEM careers, and if we are to reduce that overall shortage, we absolutely must recruit more women.

 

If we don’t, we are limiting our ability to solve tough energy challenges, meet the demands of our critical missions, protect our nation from nuclear threats, and innovate in the development of clean energy technologies.

 

As Secretary, I will ensure that we excel in the programs we have in place to make that happen, and that we look to broaden our impact in this critical space.

 

There’s no question that at the Department of ¹Ʊ, we’re putting our weight behind engaging young women in energy literacy and STEM, and working to close the gender gap in tomorrow’s future energy workforce.

 

Just last week we wrapped up the call for nominations for the U.S. Clean ¹Ʊ Education Empowerment – or C3E – awards, which will be given to seven rising stars in the clean energy sector at our Symposium this December at MIT.

 

I had the honor of speaking at the U.S. C3E Symposium in 2018 at Stanford, and loved joining a host of accomplished women in energy – just like I am today.

 

Our Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has hosted a Young Women’s Conference in STEM since 2013, engaging middle and high school girls in STEM through robotics, chemistry, and physics activities, and interacting with women in STEM from the lab. 

 

This summer, Lawrence Berkeley and SLAC will host the Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement in STEM week-long summer camp for public high school students, exposing them to the everyday life of scientists at our ¹Ʊ Department’s labs.

 

And a couple weeks ago, I stood next to Fatih Birol, Director of the International ¹Ʊ Agency, and applauded him and the IEA for our long-standing partnership on the International C3E effort to advance women in clean energy as a part of our efforts to reduce energy emissions worldwide. 

 

We continue to partner in this work with many countries, including Canada, Italy, Sweden, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Australia. 

 

I’m continuing to ensure that increasing the number of women in energy is at the top of our agenda, including it in the conversation at events like the Waste Management Symposium, which the Office of Environmental Management hosted last week in Arizona.

 

And I am pleased when I see the strong leadership at our National Laboratories in this endeavor. I would like to applaud Los Alamos National Laboratory, along with its Director, Thomas Mason, for being the first national lab to join Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, a network bringing together heads of organizations to empower and advance talented women in the nuclear energy workplace. 

 

The Director of Idaho National Laboratory, Dr. Mark Peters, recently became the second Lab Director to do likewise.

 

These are just a few examples of what we do at the Department of ¹Ʊ to ensure that we are enabling women in STEM to be brave, be bold, and be fearless. 

 

There are many more examples, which you can find on our website, energy.gov/women, and of course you’ll soon see some of our amazing women in STEM in action at this event.

 

Speaking for myself and this Department, let me conclude by stressing just how much the work we are doing in this space matters.

 

It is the right thing to do for the nation, for the Department, for the women of the DOE family, and for the young STEM students today who will become the bigger, brave, bold, and fearless female energy workforce of tomorrow.   

 

So thank you all for participating – and let’s move ahead together for the sake of this generation and generations to come.