According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up nearly half of the country’s workforce – yet only 27% of STEM workers. In honor of Women’s History Month this past March, the Presidential Personnel Office is proud to highlight the experiences of women in STEM serving as appointees across the Biden-Harris Administration. The following women share the importance of increased representation in STEM fields and advice for young women hoping to pursue careers in STEM. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden speaks to researchers, doctors, and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center who are helping Americans lead healthier, longer lives.

U.S. Department of Transportation

Tatjana Kunz, Special Assistant for Policy and Implementation

1. Can you tell us about your role in the Biden-Harris Administration?

I work with our policy team to support policy initiatives across the Department of Transportation (DOT). In my role, I focus primarily on implementation of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and climate policy initiatives, with a focus on climate change mitigation.

2. How does your personal background inform your public service today?

I’ve known that I wanted to work in the climate space for some time. Having lived in Colorado and California, I’ve seen some of the impacts of climate change firsthand. I was in Colorado for one of the most destructive floods in state history, and in California for the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history. In the last few months alone, my hometown in Colorado has seen two big fires – both of which were only a few miles from my family. The impacts of climate change are personal, and that has motivated my work in public service.

3. Why is it important to have more women represented in STEM?

Representation matters, and women bring crucial perspectives to the STEM field. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by women in STEM who inspired me growing up and as I started my career. I’ve always been motivated and supported by the women in my family – my mom and her three sisters, and my two sisters have all held leadership roles in STEM. Growing up surrounded by women in these roles allowed me to consider a broad array of careers in STEM and STEM-adjacent fields from a young age.

I’ve also been fortunate to have brilliant female colleagues and mentors in my career so far, and I learn more every day from the women who work at DOT, many of whom have paved the way for more women to work in transportation.  

4. What advice would you give to young women pursuing careers in STEM?

Not only are you exceptionally capable, but the STEM field needs your contributions. Find community with other women in the field – both other young women who are navigating the start of their careers, and women who have been in the field for a long time. When things get challenging, having mentors and friends to lean on make a world of difference. Lastly, embrace continuous learning, and approach every hurdle with a growth mindset. Bumps in the road will happen – they’re just opportunities to learn and course correct.

U.S. Department of Energy

Adrianna Williams, Special Assistant for Briefings

1. Can you tell us about your role in the Biden-Harris Administration?

In my role, I prepare the Secretary of Energy’s daily briefing book and organize other materials she utilizes in her daily meetings and events. I also have the opportunity to assist several members of our team with planning the Secretary’s domestic and international engagements.

2. How does your personal background inform your public service today?

My personal and professional experiences have motivated my passion for public service. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the impact of public service firsthand through my family. Several of my family members have worked as elected officials and in law enforcement, education, and the military, among other fields. It was through their example that I began to understand how public service is vital to propelling communities and our country forward.

3. Why is it important to have more women represented in STEM?

I believe it is essential to have more women represented in STEM because women in STEM fields have led our country to achieve new heights once unimaginable. From Rosalind Franklin, whose research laid the foundation for our robust understanding of DNA, to Dr. Alexa Canady, the first Black female neurosurgeon in the United States, women in STEM have uplifted this country, allowing it to become a leader in innovation. Having more women in STEM also encourages this nation to truly live up to our ideals of equity and inclusion.

4. What advice would you give to young women pursuing careers in STEM?

My best piece of advice for young women pursuing careers in STEM is to lean on other women in STEM for advice and encouragement. As a Black female recipient of a Neuroscience degree, I can confidently say that my achievement would not have been possible without the support of my female STEM professors and mentors. I believe that those most set up for success are also those motivated to lean on others when needed.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Eunjung Kim, Special Assistant, Office of Air and Radiation

1. Can you tell us about your role in the Biden-Harris Administration?

I work in the Office of Air and Radiation where our work focuses on air quality and emissions to improve the environment and public health. My day-to-day work focuses more on our team’s external engagements – whether it’s responding to inquiries from the Hill, setting up meetings and building relationships with key stakeholders, or compiling talking points for speaking engagements. I’m incredibly proud and lucky to be part of a team that works on everything from vehicle emissions to power plant regulations to programs such as Energy Star.

2. How does your personal background inform your public service today?

Growing up as an immigrant, I always felt strongly about giving back to the community and country that I grew up in and now call home. My first job out of college was working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and that’s where I got to embrace and understand the impact of public service. With a combination of my technical background and experience with grassroots political organizing, I really wanted to be part of a mission that improves communities every day. That perspective of how public service work can impact so many people in this country feeds into my approach at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the end of the day, we are fortunate to have the work we do improve the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors.

3. Why is it important to have more women represented in STEM?

It’s important to have people from different backgrounds and lived experiences bring forth new, creative mindsets. I think the STEM field could benefit with more representation from not only women but also people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and others who are underrepresented in the field. Having a diverse group tackling issues like the next vaccine or autonomous car will bring about more dynamic solutions.

4. What advice would you give to young women pursuing careers in STEM?

The soft and hard skills you gain in STEM can be translated into many different fields. So far in my career, I’ve worked in materials engineering, data and analytics, political organizing, and now environmental policy. My engineering background has been so crucial in developing my problem-solving and management skills in every job I’ve had. I still use the same system of tracking deadlines for all my previous physics, polymers, and computer science assignments to manage the various deadlines and priorities for my work at the EPA.

Moreover, know that you belong in every room and conversation, no matter where you are. Being a minority in the field, you bring a new perspective, so don’t be afraid to speak up and stick out.

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