DOE to Increase Women Scientists in Workforce
Fueled by a booming economy, unemployment record lows have caused concern about the nation's future workforce in foundational areas such as science, engineering, and technology. The federal government is among concerned employers. Department of Energy secretary Bill Richardson says, "The Department of Energy, like the rest of America, has a soaring demand for a technically skilled workforce." DOE points out that in the next two decades, the workforce will become 50 percent women. Currently, however, women fill only 9 percent of jobs requiring engineering skills and 10 percent requiring a physics background. Thus, DOE recently announced actions embodying the goals of the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology (CAWMSET). Established in October 1998, CAWMSET's purpose was to recommend ways to improve recruitment, retention, and representation of women and minorities in the workforce. In announcing this initiative, Richardson pointed out that DOE as a leading scientific and technical employer has the obligation to help build a workforce that will accommodate future demands. The planned activities include: collaborating with the National Science Foundation to use the DOE's national lab facilities for hands-on science education; partnering with the Office of Personnel Management and Congress to better compete for highly qualified technical personnel; undertaking aggressive outreach and recruitment; establishing formal training of scientists and managers to serve as volunteer mentors; and creating a database to monitor progress made in eliminating equal opportunity barriers. In conjunction with these actions, Richardson says, "Women today--young women in school and those who already are on their career paths--cannot lose sight of the many opportunities in science and technology that beg for their involvement."