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Women @ Energy: Joy Bonaguro

April 4, 2013 - 4:22pm

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Joy Bonaguro manages Information Technology policy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and works closely with both the National Lab CIO Council and the DOE Information Management Advisory Group to help develop Department of Energy information policy.

Joy Bonaguro manages Information Technology policy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and works closely with both the National Lab CIO Council and the DOE Information Management Advisory Group to help develop Department of Energy information policy.

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Joy Bonaguro manages IT policy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and works closely with both the National Lab CIO Council and the Department of Energy Information Management Advisory Group to help develop Department of Energy information policy. Joy earned her Masters from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, where she focused on IT policy, including work on HITECH and online accessibility. Prior to graduate school, Joy worked for the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, where she developed information systems to make data readily available online for planning and decision-making both pre and post Hurricane Katrina.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

There is an 'M' and a 'T' part to that.  My background is in mathematics.  I was interested in a wide range of topics but ended up choosing mathematics because it was the common denominator among all areas of science.  I figured if I understood the language of mathematics I could do lots of things.  But then, right out of college, I got into technology, working for the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. What inspired me at the Data Center was that if you are smart and thoughtful about technology you can change the world.  In our case, we were early pioneers in the data democratization movement - using technology to increase participation in public decision-making for populations that were traditionally disenfranchised. Through that experience, I saw that technology can either support good policy and decision-making or it can actually derail it. I continued to work in New Orleans, before and after Katrina and the importance of public technology really became salient during and after that disaster as we worked to rebuild data and information systems about the city.

2) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?

The opportunity to work on technology policy and its implementation. I chose Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 1) because of its commitment to science and I am a science geek, and 2) because I was hesitant to do policy at the federal level without understanding the environment in which policy was being implemented.  In my job, I often work with the National Lab CIO community and the OCIO on policy and our challenge is to develop policy that has to support anything from open science to stewardship of the nuclear stockpile. That delicate balance is really enjoyable. We get to work at a fascinating nexus of technology and information policy but also cybersecurity and privacy.

3)  How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

This is complex and includes two broad problems - initial engagement (the pipeline problem) and retention. We’ve made great strides on the pipeline problem, but we continue to struggle to retain women in STEM fields. We should continue to deploy the best practices that have been proven to help both engage and retain women. But we need to continue research to improve our knowledge of what works. For organizations, institutional commitment is necessary both to implement best practices and to signal to women that this is a priority.

4)  Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Take the harder classes, and think of them as problem solving.  Don't expect to be great, expect to work hard and enjoy the learning process.  I would encourage young women to take a programming course at Udacity or others and learn about how to structure problem solving.  Start volunteering, getting involved, reading, asking questions.

5)  When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

I am a voracious reader and will read anything I can get my paws on. But I focus on non-fiction, the latest research, etc. I love cooking and recently took up woodworking.

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