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Why Are There So Few Women In CleanTech?

By July 9, 2021November 8th, 2023No Comments5 min read

Unraveling the gender disparity in GreenTech

Are women being left on the sidelines as the ‘green revolution’ enters a new and more urgent phase? As investors begin to pursue green opportunities due to the world transitioning to a net-zero economy, the disparity between females and males in the sector urgently needs to be addressed.

The investment community is largely dominated by men, but CleanTech, in particular, can be an unwelcoming space for women. A recent study shows the existing disparity between men and women working in the clean energy industry in 2020; 30% female to 70% male.

However, many organizations are working to solve the systemic problem of females being underrepresented in the industry. We investigate who they are and why diversity in CleanTech is so important.

Barriers Faced By Women In CleanTech

Research has shown women are more likely to face barriers when it comes to accessing the support and resources they need to build and grow a company to support a sustainable tomorrow.

According to a study completed by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, over 83% of women-owned SMEs use personal financing to start their businesses, and only 32.6% of women seek and receive financing, compared to 38% of men. The study also revealed firms owned by men are four times more likely to report receiving venture capital than firms owned by women.

The disparity is thought to be down to several reasons; societal factors and stereotypes of women being risk-averse or untrustworthy, as well as the sector being STEM-orientated, which can be a deterrent to women who don’t come from that background.

“We don’t need to be traditionally technical in the STEM sense to have a rewarding career in the fields of science, technology, engineering or maths. It takes a healthy mix of skills and experience to make the world go round”, Gill Nowell, DSO Lead, ElectraLink.


Why Diversity is Necessary

The business case for DEI is stronger than ever; a diverse and inclusive workplace can be a source of competitive advantage, with evidence to suggest diverse teams outperform uniformed teams. Hiring women and professionals from all backgrounds, cultures and races bring unique and different perspectives on global challenges that lead to creative solutions.

“If we all think the same way, we all see the problem the same way and we don’t come up with creative solutions. Once you’ve broken out of that mould, you can begin to understand that the person who challenges the issues is also the person who helps you progress the company the furthest”, Jodie Morgan, CEO, Green Mantra Technologies Inc.


Organizations Making A Difference

Many support groups are campaigning to close the gender gap in the CleanTech industry.

Among those groups are the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), who have pledged to “redouble efforts on diversifying the renewables workforce and consider how their industries stand against racial injustice”.

Founded in 2005, Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) has one purpose – to change the energy future through the actions of women. Its mission is to promote the education, professional development, and advancement of women to achieve a strong diversified workforce and support a robust renewable energy economy.

“I have witnessed a transformation in the conversation around the issue of representation in the workforce. There is now widespread recognition of the importance of diversity, and that’s promising”, Kristen Graf, Executive Director.

Women in CleanTech And Sustainability aims to create a community to give women a ‘sisterhood’ to thrive and spotlight the women and men working to build the future green economy.

“We assume men will start businesses, but we don’t necessarily assume women will do that. So when you meet one of these people, it’s unusual. That is why I started Women in CleanTech & Sustainability; to bring to light all the great women and the work that they’re doing in this industry”, Lisa Ann Pinkerton, Founder.

Who Are The Women Leading The Way In The CleanTech Industry

Florence Gschwend, Co-Founder, and CTO at Lixea, has designed chemical processes to enable industries to move away from single-use crude oil products. Striving to make society more sustainable by providing a solution to unwanted waste, she has accumulated an impressive array of awards throughout her career, as well as being named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for Europe’s most promising game-changers in 2017.

Nina Harjula, Head of Global Communications at Danfoss Power Solutions is changing how the world moves on land and sea with hybrid and electric drivetrain systems. Regarded as one of the pioneers in CleanTech business development in Finland, she was invited by Business Finland to be a member of the CleanTech Advisory Board.

Lubomila Jordanova, Co-Founder and CEO at PlanA.Earth and Co-Founder at GreenTech Alliance are helping businesses calculate, monitor, and reduce their carbon footprint. Last year, Lubomila was named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and was selected as one of FOCUS Magazine’s 100 Women of the Year in Germany.

Exclusion does not lead to inclusion. We all have a responsibility to create a community that is not male or female-dominated – that’s when we know the gender gap no longer exists.

If you recognize the disparity in your CleanTech team and want to bridge the gap, get in touch. We can connect you with our diverse network of professionals to scale your team to drive business success. 

We’ve helped some of the most successful GreenTech startups grow.

— now it’s your turn.

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