The Rutgers Energy Institute and Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy partnered for the first Women in Energy program at Rutgers University on November 8. The goal of the program is to empower students to take on leadership roles in the energy sector and realize their full potential, while building a thriving community of professional women.
The program, which centered on a moderated panel discussion and open question and answer period featuring the all-female leadership drawn from the energy sector, can be viewed here. The panel of experts included Serpil Guran, director of Rutgers EcoComplex, the “Clean Energy Innovation Center” at the university; Alissa Park, Lenfest Chair in Applied Climate Science and director of The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University; Ellen Morris, adjunct professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and president and founder of Sustainable Energy Solutions; Jeanne Fox, member of Rutgers Board of Trustees and an adjunct professor in School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Fox is also a former commissioner at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities as well as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy. Rounding out the panel, as moderator, was Rachael Shwom, associate professor in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers and associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute.
Panelists shared their experiences and career paths and offered advice for students seeking to enter the energy and environment field.
Ashley Pennington, a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers who attended the event, shared her impressions of the first-of-its kind program at Rutgers. “I enjoyed attending the Women in Energy event because it opened doors both for me to find a mentor and be a mentor. I was able to learn from wonderful women who were further along in their careers and, in addition, during the networking reception I was able to speak with younger women interested in energy. The event gave me a chance to both get advice and offer advice in the same night — while learning more about the various facets of working in energy.”
According to panelist Serpil Guran, “currently, the energy and environment sector is heavily dominated by men, and in order to increase women in this sector, we need to educate them in the sciences.” Guran offered the following prescription to grow women in the field. “Young girls should be encouraged in STEM education, and women overall through their education and in their careers should be provided mentoring. The mentor–mentee partnership in the energy sector is invaluable and will help newcomers to learn from other women’s experiences. There is benefit to hearing lessons others have learned, and efficient networking will be beneficial for successful energy careers for women. ”
Moderator Rachael Shwom noted that “the sheer amount of energy expertise and experience on the panel was amazing, and it was a great opportunity for those in attendance to learn about energy and energy careers.”
The Rutgers Energy Institute expressed sincere gratitude to Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy for their partnership and generous support of the panel discussion and the networking reception.