By Glenna Wiseman
Vice President, Marketing, Helio Energy Solutions
90 years since winning the right to vote women are calling for a new revolution. This week marks 9 decades since the groundbreaking Nineteen Amendment granted women the right to cast a vote in America. Officially titled Women’s Equality Day by Congress in 1971, August 26th marks the day the daughters of America could vote.
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on Account of sex,” states the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This language empowered American women to a say in their destinies. Now women are calling for a different revolution – for clean energy.
Within the clean energy movement, women hold many leadership roles. By no means an exhaustive list, these leaders include Julia Hamm, president and CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), Sue Kateley, Executive Director for the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), Kristina M. Johnson, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Dr. Jan Hamrin, founder and president of the Center for Resource Solutions, and Lisa M. Daniels, Executive Director and founder of Windustry.
In her Ms. Magazine blog post August 23, “Can Rosie Get a Green-Collar Job?” writer Adina Nack highlighted “trailblazers who have already shifted the paradigm in their respective industries—like Geraldine Knatz (executive director of the Port of Los Angeles), Mary D. Nichols (chair of the California Air Resources Board) and Maggie Fox (CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection).” She goes on to say “ I’m proud to say that my sister Jaime Nack is one of the women at the forefront of such efforts: Greening the 2008 Democratic National Convention and organizing the upcoming Women In Green Forum, a two-day conference that will launch this September in Pasadena, Calif. to highlight women leaders in sustainability and provide networking opportunities for women entering green careers.”
As Ms. Nack cites in her article, traditionally male dominated industries including construction have lagged behind other industries in numbers of female workers. Within the clean energy sector, I have many peers in the marketing and communications areas that are women. Women work in the accounting and finance arenas for renewable energy. They handle customer service issues. There are a growing number of female business development professionals, community leaders, project managers, green building professionals, lighting experts, engineers and installers. And there is room for growth for women in both the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
Women’s leadership in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields are representative of public sentiments supporting clean energy in America.
The national Women’s Survey on Energy & the Environment, the first in-depth women’s survey on attitudes and awareness about energy, revealed “that women want the country to move toward clean energy sources, and more than half (57%) are even willing to pay $30 more per month for it,” reports Living Green Magazine.
The study, commissioned in 2009 by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in collaboration with the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE), surveyed a nationally representative cross section of 801 women 18 years or older.
“Women have a huge stake in our nation’s energy future and can play a vital role in moving our country toward clean sources of electricity, such as wind, solar and nuclear, that do not pollute the air we breathe or contribute to global warming,” said Barbara Kasoff, president of WIPP. “With so much resting on the energy and environment policy decisions we make today, every woman’s voice counts now more than ever.”
As reported by Living Green Magazine, the survey found within the general female population:
• 77 percent of women take primary or equal responsibility for paying their electricity bills, including 9-in-10 (91 percent) of unmarried women and 7 in 10 (70 percent) of married women.
• Virtually all women (97 percent) are conserving electricity, and they are doing so through a broad range of steps such as lowering thermostats; turning off lights and appliances when not in use; purchasing energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs; keeping their homes cooler in winter; and installing energy-efficient appliances, doors, windows, or insulation.
• 91 percent of women, including 86 percent of married women, play a dominant or equal role in conserving electricity at home.
• When it comes to the country’s energy policy, twice as many women (43 percent) cite moving to clean energy over any other issue (reliability or affordability of electricity) as their most important goal.
• Women are enthusiastic about solar and wind energy, both clean energy sources: 90 percent and 89 percent, respectively think they should play a very or somewhat important role in our country’s energy future.
Within the ranks of women business owners, the stats are even more powerful. Living Green Magazine, “Women business owners are at the forefront of leading America toward energy conservation and clean energy. In fact, a majority cite moving to clean energy as our most important energy policy goal, according to a similar survey of 455 women business owners also commissioned by WIPP and WCEE.
On both of these measures, women business owners are even more committed to clean energy than the general female population. They strongly believe wind and solar energy should have an important role in addressing our country’s electricity needs.”
According to the Women’s Survey on Energy & the Environment, a majority of these same women will be paying the electric bills at home and work. They are asking the questions that lead to higher adoption rates of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources in this country.
In 1940 my grandmother, Bea Sharp, divorced her husband and moved across the country with her three small children. She became a “Rosie the Riveter” in the Douglas plant in southern California. Her demonstration of life lived fearlessly influenced my aunt, who became a nurse in her fifties. My aunt was there when I needed her one night in a hospital in Glendale, CA. I come from a long line of women, including my Mom, who have lived life in pursuit of a better life for their children and country.
90 years since women won the right to vote, we are putting forth a different clarion call – one for clean energy, U.S. based jobs for our sons and daughters, a clean environment for our children and grandchildren and an American economy fueled by renewable energy abundance.
On this anniversary of the right to vote I enjoy today, I thank the courageous women (and men) who made this freedom possible. For the men and women in my own family I am grateful for their courage and tenacity.
I thank the trailblazers who have moved our renewable energy industry forward. My life is blessed with the camaraderie of men and women within the clean energy industry. We are working fiercely to see a future bright with the fulfilled promise of the clean energy revolution. Just as our ancestors saw success 90 years ago, we will as well.
You can reach Glenna Wiseman at [email protected] Energy Solutions.com