Posted by Guest Contributor
By Elizabeth Galusha
Women in Solar Energy (WISE) hosted a#NationWISE Multi-City Roundtable in 14 cities on February 24, 2015. The mission of WISE is to advance women in all aspects of the solar energy industry. Currently, women account for 21.6% of the workforce in the solar industry, according to the 2014 Solar Foundation annual job census.
The objective of the national roundtable was to help WISE develop an action to present to the solar industry. The action will be based on ways to increase diversity in the workforce, while promoting better business practices.
In San Francisco, our local #NationWISE panel was composed of four highly talented women sharing their journey, passion, and involvement in the solar energy industry.
For some of the panelists it was a straight path into the solar industry, while others made their way by networking and figuring out ways to use their transferable skills to do something “more meaningful” or “inspirational.” Their varied backgrounds include such diverse areas as tech, marketing, product management, customer support, editing/publishing, statistics, market research, and anthropology – a good illustration of how many skills are transferable to solar.
The panelists also provided some active words of advice to get more women into the industry. Some highlights: Just go for it! Do something bold and foolish. Don’t talk yourself out of it – more women need to apply for solar jobs. Parenthood is not a limitation. Be persistent. Volunteer and network to get into the solar industry. Seek out great managers and great teams that will support your growth and life balance, and do the same for others. Be true to yourself.
After the panelists shared their industry wisdom, the attendees broke into groups to brainstorm solutions to two questions presented by WISE. First, Why is it that women make up only about 20% of the solar industry, even though we represent 50% of the population? And second, What policies would you like to see in place to help recruit and retain women in solar?
The questions sparked some great discussion at the San Francisco #NationWISE roundtable, with the feedback including:
In spite of past statistics or recent news in the tech world, the energy at the local SF WISE roundtable was that women are inspired, and will continue to support each other to make a greater difference. Taking from the spirit of just do it, we ask women and men, especially in mid- or upper-management positions, to take initiative to create a mentoring-type program or set a personal goal to support the retention and growth of a diverse workforce in the solar industry.
WISE is compiling all the feedback from each city, and planning to release the information in time for International Women’s Day on March 8. Find out more about WISE and its initiatives at www.solwomen.org.
As a board member for Women in Cleantech & Sustainability in San Francisco, I greatly look forward to seeing more women across the world uniting to support the advancement of diversity in our communities. Explore this site to learn about regional events, volunteer opportunities, job postings, and more.
Want to contribute?
We're always looking for a fresh perspective and good content. Please email us if you're interested.