Women have been a vital part in the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for centuries. Today, ReGreen highlights 5 amazing female pioneers in energy advancement and the accomplishments they have made to the developing energy revolution in the United States.
Leona Woods was born in La Grange, Illinois in 1919. After graduating high school at age 14, she went on to earn a degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago at just age 19. Immediately after earning her PhD, Woods was hired by physicist Herbert Anderson to work in Enrico Fermi’s lab during the Manhattan Project Era. Woods’ job was to measure neutron fluxes with the detectors used by Fermi’s group. In 1942, at age 23, Woods was the only woman and the youngest person on Fermi’s team when its nuclear pile went critical under the west grandstand at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field.
Following her service as Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Renewable Energy. Donna Fitzpatrick, a Washington, D.C. native, became the first female Under Secretary of Energy. Fitzpatrick was nominated under the Ronald Regan administration in 1988.
Mary Bunting-Smith was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1910. Bunting-Smith earned an undergraduate degree in microbiology in 1931 and went on to earn a PhD in bacteriology in 1934. Bunting-Smith achieved many accomplishments in her career, but in 1964 she became the first female member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. She is also well known for her term as president of Radcliffe College, where she focused her efforts on integrating the women there into Harvard University.
In 1992, under the Bush Administration, Linda Stuntz was nominated as the first female Deputy Secretary of Energy. Born in Bellefontaine, OH in 1954, Stuntz earned her A.B. degree in 1976 and a J.D. degree in 1979 from Harvard Law School. Stuntz was nominated for the position of Deputy Secretary of Energy following her service as Acting Deputy Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Domestic and International Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Hazel R. O’Leary
In 1937 in Newport News, Virginia, O’Leary was born in the time of public school segregation. The struggles of segregation weren’t enough to deter her from success. O’Leary graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1955 and went on to earn a law degree from Rutgers University in 1962. In 1977 the Carter Administration appointed O’Leary to head the Department of Energy’s Economic Regulatory Administration. Soon after, in 1992 the Clinton Administration nominated O’Leary as the Secretary of Energy. O’Leary is the first African American and only female to hold this position.
The accomplishments don’t stop there. At the Clean Energy Ministerial held in London in April 2012, the Department launched the U.S. Clean Energy, Education, and Empowerment (C3E) program to advance the careers and leadership of women in clean energy fields leading the way for more women to become driving forces in the new and expanding renewable energy revolution. Happy International Women’s Day from ReGreen!