BLOG POST BY FATIMA ADAM – high school student in Shrewsbury, MA and aspiring global energy leader
Interview with Judy Garber, Executive Director of Women in Energy
Judy Garber is the executive director of Women in Energy, a company whose mission is to connect and empower women seeking to work in the energy industry by providing networking, mentoring, and educational courses. In the conversation, we discussed the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry and how she overcame them. It was an informative interview where I learned what it’s like to pursue a career in the energy sector, especially in a high position like Mrs. Garber herself.
How did Women in Energy start? Our company started three years ago with other great women who have been in the oil and energy industry. Our main goal is to help students pursue careers in the energy sector by creating opportunities for them. We provide representation by introducing mentors and promoting educational courses. When we started, we realized that many other groups were dedicated to helping women find careers in energy.
Why is there a lack of representation of women in the energy sector? I believe that there are fewer women in the energy sector because they just don’t know. It is not common for women to pursue careers in the energy industry due to it being viewed as a male-dominated industry. Most people see the energy industry as wearing a hazmat suit with huge boots, but it is much more than that. The energy sector is a general term for the different sections such as nuclear, oil, gas, solar, etc. Our company is energy neutral, so we provide opportunities to students wanting to pursue careers in any of the fields in the energy sector.
What got you interested in pursuing a career in the STEM/Energy sector? Like many other women, I fell into the energy industry. I’ve worked in the energy industry for a total of 30 years. I never liked the conventional jobs at that time like a teacher, nurse, or office worker. However, manufacturing was what got me interested and since then I’ve continued.
Who was your inspiration? My inspiration was a woman who told me the art of saying no. I’ve always been told how to be respectful because she taught me that if I don’t agree with it, it’s alright to say no and reject. However, in my career, many of my mentors were men, men who wanted to see women succeed in their careers. I recall one of my mentors pushed for me to apply for a job that I didn’t know anything about. I was hesitant at first, but he knew that I had the skills for the job, which I thank him for.
Have you faced any challenges while working in a male-dominated industry, and how did you overcome them? There were so many experiences that I can remember, many harsh encounters. One of the experiences that I can recall was when I worked in manufacturing. I was fairly new to the new industry, and I worked alongside a male colleague who was ignorant when answering questions. I was hesitant to speak up until I remembered the lesson of saying no. That was what gave me the confidence to confront him and ask for respect. Many times I have been ignored or rejected, but I have overcome this by building up confidence.
What do you enjoy about your line of work? What I enjoy about my line of work is being able to talk with girls like you and other women who have dreams and are seeking help. I love working with other amazing women to create the future workforce in the energy sector. It’s fulfilling and inspiring.
What have you learned throughout your career? To always push forward and never stop pursuing what you want to pursue. There are many opportunities out there in the energy sector and many great female leaders coming to the industry today.
Is there any advice that you have for girls wanting to pursue a career in STEAM? To just do it. Representation has increased now but we need to exceed, nevertheless go after your dreams and achieve what you want to achieve, the more woman the better
What does “Women in Energy” do to encourage more women to pursue careers in energy ? Women in energy have had most of our events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but if it was a normal year we would be having Energy expos where we would introduce students to executives and CEOs of energy companies as well as having educational workshops. To provide learning experiences to students we provide them with mentors curated to the career they want to pursue as well as holding conferences where we invite women who have careers in the energy industry to share their expertise. An upcoming event that is coming soon is our fall workshops where members and guests connect and attend panel discussions and workshops.