Posted by Rosana Francescato
This post was originally published on PV Solar Report.
Persistence and patience are key when it comes to many undertakings in solar. That was no less true of getting in to the Professional Women in Solar Breakfast atSolar Power International. The fact that this breakfast routinely sells out attests to a couple facts: 1) There are more than a few women in solar, and 2) Women in solar feel the need to band together.
I was one of many who didn’t manage to get a ticket before the event sold out. But my persistence and patience paid off when enough seats opened up to let a few of us in, and I was finally admitted to the breakfast. There’s nothing like exclusivity to make an event feel desirable!
By the time I made it in and got myself some breakfast, the first speaker had already embarked on her talk. Caroline Venza, Lead Strategist at missionCTRL, talked to us about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Her advice is good for women in any industry:
El-Azzi’s advice to women is to develop our brand. You can’t control whether people like you, but can control your brand. She gave us this homework:
That means that solar companies need to hire more women. And as women in solar, we need to facilitate that and help one another be successful. It’s lonely at the top if you get there alone.
Neslund has practiced this in her own career, and she’s found that the more women she was able to bring to table, the better decisions her company made. Not to mention that women, major decision-makers in most households, matter in this market.
Neslund advised us to be flexible and find a balance between focusing on relationship and task. Leadership, she said, is about flexibility and meeting the occasion, while being authentic. Her conclusions:
With so much interest in this breakfast, I hope the organizers will consider finding a bigger room next year. We need room for all of us, to accommodate our growing numbers. There are still too many booth babes at solar conferences. Let’s make sure we carve out a place for professional women in solar.
Rosana Francescato is Director of Communications at Sunible.com, an online marketplace that’s radically simplifying the home solar buying experience. She’s on the board of Women in Cleantech and Sustainability and the steering committee of theLocal Clean Energy Alliance. She’s been the top individual fundraiser at the GRID Alternatives Bay Area Solarthon four years in a row.
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