Being a woman in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be challenging. Although gender gaps are improving, women are still vastly underrepresented.
In Canada, women make up less than one-quarter of the people employed in STEM careers. The UK has a similar breakdown, with the STEM workforce 24 per cent women. This can lead to feelings of isolation, as many individuals lack role models or a clear path to senior-level roles. As Heema Joshi, Senior Solar Analyst at Clir says, “being a woman in technology means being a part of a minority group.”
As a CleanTech company, we’re focused on disrupting the status quo — through increasing reliance on alternative energy sources and creating a diverse workforce. Renewable energy is an emerging industry, which allows for the opportunity for women and minorities to push boundaries and challenge gender norms. According to a 2019 report, 32 per cent of renewable energy workers are women, compared to 22 per cent in the wider energy sector. Although it’s already proving to be more inclusive, it still has a long way to go in order to improve the representation of women.
With innovation and inclusion as two of our core values, Clir has pledged to promote gender diversity through training, mentorship, recruitment and retention. We’re committed to the Equal by 30 initiative and publicly share our diversity statistics — currently 36 per cent of our staff use she/her/hers pronouns. This is because we recognize the importance of diversity in technology and sustainability. Technology strives to be “an extremely welcoming community,” says our Product Marketing Manager, Maya De-Vreeze. This is because we know that diverse voices build the best, community-changing products.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in Cleantech, these are some resources that will help you get started:
1. Mentors or mentorship programs. Find a mentor to help you learn and gain confidence in the industry. Clir recently implemented an internal mentorship program to great success. Work on Climate is a renewable energy Slack group and job board that is useful to find others who work in the industry.
2. Join networking groups. Many have seminars or events that can help you learn or meet others in the industry. We recommend Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE). You can also seek out renewable-specific meetups or conferences to attend.
3. Seek employers who value diversity. Research the number of women or people of colour in senior positions, and learn about a company’s values, to understand its commitment to diversity.
4. Keep learning. Technology and sustainability are rapidly evolving, which makes it important to continue learning.
5. Volunteer. Advocacy groups like British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association are always looking for volunteers to help them achieve their goals.
6. Get certified. There are free online courses that can be beneficial if your background is not specifically in renewable energy. Technical University of Denmark offers a wind energy course, while Delft University of Technology has a solar course.
As the renewable energy and STEM workforce grows, it is important to continue conversations about diversity equality and gender beyond the binary framework. At Clir, we’re working hard to increase diversity in our company and in the industry.
If you’re interested in Clir’s commitment to diversity, learn more about our values.