This blog is the fourth in a series from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy staff attending the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2015 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida.
During American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) WINDPOWER 2015 conference in Orlando this week we’ve heard about the rise of wind energy in the U.S. energy market and the opportunities for wind development in the Southeast. But there’s another part of the wind industry worth noting that is also on the rise: women. The encouragement of young women like myself to dive into the world of wind is in large part thanks to the Women of Wind Energy (WoWE): a non-profit organization dedicated to providing networking resources to emerging women leaders and promoting the advancement of women in the wind industry.
Today I was excited to be surrounded by strong, successful, and ambitious women in the clean energy sector as I attended WoWE’s annual WINDPOWER luncheon. The luncheon occurs each year during the AWEA conference to provide networking opportunities for women in the field, honor women champions of wind, and support WoWE’s mission to help promote the professional development and advancement of women in renewable energy. During the luncheon, WoWE also recognizes six emerging women in the field, awarding them a full scholarship to attend the conference and provide guidance throughout the week. I was grateful to be awarded the WoWE Fellowship last year, which allowed me to attend the 2014 conference, network with industry leaders, and benefit from WoWE’s mentorship program over the past year.
WoWE and other organizations are working to give women the confidence and skills to not just become a part of the wind industry, but to lead. Today I was inspired by the number of women in the room that have risen to CEOs and senior management positions of wind energy organizations. However, there is still plenty of work to be done to make sure women can advance in the renewable energy field. When I attended events and walked the exhibit floor at this year’s WINDPOWER conference, it was obvious that the industry is still very male dominated. Many of the younger women in the wind industry I’ve connected with have stressed that they were one of only a few women in their engineering classes in college, and even in the non-profit arena where the percentage of women in the field is higher, the number of executive directors is still mostly men. While growing, just 14.2% of the top five leadership positions in S&P 500 companies are filled by women.
The only way the wind industry can reach its highest potential is by making sure businesses and organizations are bringing a diverse workforce to the table — and that means more women. It’s been a honor to be connected with WoWE this past year and I encourage you to explore the organization’s resources and membership opportunities here: www.womenofwindenergy.org