INL Measured Me by My Performance—Not My Gender

When I was given the opportunity to join the Safeguards and Security Directorate at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), I was hesitant. I had been working in a promising and diverse career field, where the potential for personal growth was significant. I would be moving into a historically male-dominated career field, and if I made the move, returning to my former role would be extremely difficult due to the fast pace of the industry I was leaving. While the final decision was based on many factors, I saw an opportunity to join a career field where I could have a bigger impact—a place where my skill sets and passion would allow a greater sense of accomplishment.

My concern regarding the male-dominated career field was quelled quickly. INL embraces meritocracy and performance as part of its guiding values. This foundation allowed me to succeed and demonstrate my drive for excellence. With the support of many individuals, I was able to learn the full scope of the organization and help drive long-term improvement. It was not uncommon for me to be the only female, leading a group of 10 to15 males as we all focused on addressing a performance assurance issue within our directorate.

Instead of displaying any push-back or reluctance to follow my direction, these employees embraced the plan and supported me as we moved forward. This experience—and many others—convinced me that my managers at INL measured my performance by what I accomplished regardless of my gender. In fact, of the 500+ employees within my directorate, my management nominated me for a prestigious national award with the Department of Energy.

My experience at INL has helped me strive to find ways to help others break through perceived and real barriers in their career fields. I have worked hard to support diversity in our work environment and encouraged others not to fear navigating the challenges of entering a male-dominated career field. Many of these discussions have been informal dialogue with the younger female employees who seek to maximize their professional potential. My directorate has worked hard to increase diversity, and currently fifty percent of my staff is female. While this effort is not complete, I am proud to be able to support the growth and achievement of others in the workplace.