If the next generation of women leaders head into the ‘green’ industry, fueled by a passionate desire to create a healthier planet, will they “end up facing the same barriers that women in technology are already facing: a lack of role models, unwelcoming cultures, isolation, and ongoing subtle bias. The way things are now, if she considers an environmental career and looks at companies, she will see a slew of middle-aged men in suits. Will she get the message that women are not a part of the green revolution?” This question is posed by Caroline Simard, blogger for the Huffington Post in a recent post.
Simard makes some great points using data to demonstrate that indeed, the industry of new and traditional forms of energy is lacking in diversity at the highest levels of leadership. I agree with Caroline, “I don’t think it’s best to only have half of the world’s voices represented in creating renewable energy solutions.” And thankfully, my travels working with women in energy have surfaced numerous trail blazing women that are contributing their voices and powerful leadership to the green economy.
Here’s what some of pioneering role models I have had the good fortune to meet through Paragon suggest to the future generation of women leaders considering becoming part of the green revolution:
Mary Templeton, Program Manager, Better Building for Michigan.
‘My advice to the future generation of women committed to the green revolution is to get a technical degree in engineering or environmental sciences, get involved and get connected. There are many avenues to pursue and new options unfolding all the time. It’s a relatively young industry hit by the recent recession, so like other companies, the green revolution is trying to get more done with less. That means that wearing many hats – being technical at the same time you have good business sense – is essential to get your foot in the door. Volunteer, find a mentor (http://www.womenofwindenergy.org/), find the niche that aligns with your interest, and be persistent. We need your ingenuity and passion to help drive needed change!’
Nancy Moody, Director, State Government Affairs, DTE Energy
“It took two years of debate and negotiations, but was well worth the effort when the Michigan legislature adopted one of the most ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standards in the country. It was exciting to play a role in crafting both RPS and energy efficiency programs in a state that had neither. And as a woman, it was wonderful to work with female leaders in green energy, including Governor Jennifer Granholm, Representative Kathy Angerer, and Senator Patty Birkholz.
It’s true that women are still not represented in equal numbers in energy leadership. Rather than be deterred by that, I encourage young women who have a desire to make a difference that will impact generations to come, to follow their passion and get involved. Change is happening. Now more than ever, energy companies and legislative groups need the fresh perspectives not only of women, but those of the next generation. Your voice can be powerful!”
Tanya Paslawski, Manager, Regulatory Strategy, ITC Holdings
“Don’t be intimidated. If you’re passionate about what you do, you can’t let an old way of thinking get it in the way of success. If one path doesn’t work, try another.”
Seems to be a common theme. Passion trumps gender differences. Of course, how can there be a revolution without some passionate people who don’t see barriers?!! Go for the GREEN young ladies.
Written by Diane Ring
Executive Coach and Head of Environment & Energy Practice