While operation of nuclear power plants remains a male-dominated field, women continue making advancements at these facilities, especially in roles of leadership.
During this month of Women’s History – Southern Company has recognized two Alabama women who work in key positions when it comes to the reliable production of carbon-free energy at Alabama Power’s Farley Nuclear Plant – Samantha Boswell and Jamie Coleman.
Samantha Boswell (left) is a nuclear chemist and the department’s Quality Assurance / Quality Control administrator.
Jamie Coleman (right) is the Fleet Licensing Manager for Southern Company, which operates Farley Nuclear Plant.
Samantha never dreamed of working in nuclear energy. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a Master of Science degree in Business Administration she began looking for a job and found opportunities posted at Plant Farley. “When I finally had the opportunity to accept an offer from the plant, I knew it was going to be life-changing. I fully recognize the unique opportunity I have being a part of the nuclear energy industry.” She has been employed at Plant Farley for 15 years.
Boswell began her career as a chemistry technician and transitioned to performance improvement and organizational effectiveness. She currently works as a nuclear chemist and the department’s Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) administrator.
“In my role, I monitor our nuclear IQ database, which stores our chemistry data and quality control checks and scheduling,” Boswell said. “I write procedures for chemistry and lead initiatives in corrective actions, safety and health, and new lab instrumentation.”
As a woman working in a predominantly male field, Boswell said, “It can be challenging at times, if you let it be. Take advantage of any opportunity to grow. This can be extra training outside of your immediate duties or exposure in a different area. Be versatile and embrace change. You never know where your next opportunity may lead you, so be prepared for the unknown.”
Jamie, like Samantha, began her career at Plant Farley after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 2003. “I didn’t know much about nuclear energy until I interviewed for a job at Plant Farley,” said Coleman. “Everyone I talked with was so passionate about nuclear. I left Plant Farley that day with the impression that nuclear was the future and answer to our country’s energy needs, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Coleman is also among an elite group of women, in the nuclear industry, earning a SRO (senior reactor operator) license from the NRC. “We started out with about 16 people in my license class, but I was the only woman,” Coleman said. “Being in operations was one of the best jobs I’ve had with the company. The opportunities and knowledge gained during my time in operations have been invaluable.”
With respect to her experiences in a predominantly male field, Coleman said, “It’s the only point of view I have, so it’s hard to say how it’s different, but in my opinion, it is a positive thing. I know that I bring a different perspective and different opinions to every team that I am a part of. Being diverse adds value and I’m happy to be able to do that. I have never felt like I’ve been given an advantage over my peers or had a disadvantage because I am a woman.
“My biggest obstacle, which is probably the same with many others, is trying to have it all,” Coleman said. “I want a happy, healthy family and a fulfilling career. It hasn’t always been easy. I have three children, so work travel, overtime and advancement were limited for me for a while … by choice. It has taken awhile to figure out what works for me.”