Celebrating women in renewable energy for International Women’s Day
The first International Women’s Day was observed in 1911, yet it wasn’t until 1918 that the women over the age of 30 gained the right to vote. Over a century has passed and March 8 has become a global celebration of how far our society has come since the women’s suffrage movement; the most momentous progress being that women now make up 48.5% of the national labour force. So this year Quanta want to celebrate IWD by bringing you some of the top stories of women in renewable energy and discuss why it’s so important that we create a gender equal world.
Women in renewable energy
According to IRENA, renewable energy employs 32% women and while this is lower than the national participation rate, it is slightly better than the 22% employed by the wider energy sector. There is plenty of hope that this will become more balanced in the years to come because of the clear link between women and renewable energy. The University of California reported that in companies with more women sitting on the board there is a higher investment in renewable energy and a limitation of their impact on the environment.
But we must act now. IRENA reports that an additional 17.7 million jobs will be created by the renewable energy sector in the next 30 years. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure that the scale starts tipping in the favour of women - the benefits of this for the renewable energy market and wider industries are untold. After all, ‘An equal world is an enabled world’ – which is the International Women’s Day 2020 theme.
Take a look at some women in renewable energy success stories:
Julie Davenport set up Good Energy in 1999 with the aim of setting herself and her brand apart from the Big Six. These companies were dominating the market, so Julie truly had set herself a challenge, but she was driven by her passion for creating a greener future. She recounts that back when the renewables industry was in its infantile stage and small enough to congregate in a room above a west London pub there were barely any women on the scene. This didn’t deter her and we’re thankful for this because through the successful expansion of her business Julie can now use her voice to bring awareness to the gender imbalance in the energy sector. She speaks at events like ‘She is Sustainable’ to remind young girls that they have invaluable skills which can help us save our planet.
An inspiring story from Thailand
Wandee Kunchornyakong decided to set up her own solar energy business in 2008 when the Thai government announced a feed-in tariff (FiT) designed to promote renewable energy, but she had to jump over several hurdles to get there. She witnessed first-hand the difficulties that female entrepreneurs face to get funding from Thai banks. But she persevered. Wandee negotiated 60% of the investment from one bank and the remaining she funded with the sale of her land and home. Fast forward 12 years and her business, SPCG, has built 36 solar farms and more impressively employs 60% women.
Want more information on what renewable energy is doing?
Being such an innovative and progressive industry, it is no surprise that renewable energy is aware of the gender imbalance and is taking action. Various networks have been established over the years: Entrepreneurial Women in Renewable Energy (EWiRE), Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) in Canada, and Clean Energy Council's Women in Renewables in Australia. These initiatives are all working towards the common goal of empowering women and encouraging them to become leaders in their companies. Bringing these communities together creates a supportive environment where ideas can be shared, and a light can be shone on the remarkable work that women are doing in the field. Check out what these organisations are doing and get involved!
Driving the momentum for gender equality in renewable energy
It all begins with awareness so this International Women’s Day use your voice to celebrate the incredible work that women do in the renewable energy sector.
Are you looking for your next renewable energy job? Browse our current jobs and submit an application today.