Government Executive Magazine - 9/7/00 DOE pledges to place more women in tech jobs

Morella and other speakers said initiatives like those of DOE and the commission that tap into women and minority talent pools are imperative if the United States wants to keep up with the scientific and technological revolution. She said that although she supports federal efforts like the H-1B visa bill that raises the cap on the number of foreign skilled workers allowed to work in the United States, "we hope to work so we don't have a need for H-1B visas, so we can train our own workforce," she said.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced a set of initiatives Wednesday designed to increase the number of women in the department's science and technology workforce. The plan is based on recommendations from the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology Development, a group established by Congress at the request of Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md.

"We're making progress, but in reality, we only have our foot in the door," Richardson said at an Energy Department briefing. "Women can be in the thick of it all-setting the courses and determining the outcomes."

Morella, who sponsored the 1998 bill to establish the commission, said there is a "shocking inconsistency" in the number of women employed in high-tech fields. Women comprise 16 percent of all scientists in the United States, 6 percent of engineers and 4 percent of computer scientists, according to the commission's findings.

"This will put the federal government in the lead, where it belongs," she said. "So I say 'A-Men' and 'A-Woman.'"

Richardson's initiatives include:

  • Working with the National Science Foundation to determine how DOE labs can be used for education.
  • Establishing a report card system for all units to aid in removing barriers for equal opportunities in the work place.
  • Partnering with the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget and Congress to obtain authority to increase the competitiveness of DOE with the private sector.
  • Reaching out to recruit workers for scientific and technical federal positions.
  • Increasing federal entry level hiring.
  • Initiating a pilot succession program to identify potential DOE leaders.
  • Establishing a formal training program for volunteer mentors.
  • Completing benchmark assessments of workplace programs with local and national industries.
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