Recently, I was invited to speak at the 7th Annual Women in Power Forum here in Washington, DC. Attending the Forum provided me an opportunity to reflect on the important role that women play in modern America. Over the last century we have seen dramatic changes in the roles played by women. As a society, we aren’t surprised anymore when women assume positions of power, from politicians to corporate officers, accomplishments that would have shocked many even 30 years ago.
Despite significant progress, today women are still underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines. President Obama recently noted that “women hold only 27% of jobs in science and engineering, which are critical to our growth in a 21st century economy.”
The Administration has addressed this concern with bold initiatives like the Clean Energy Education Empowerment Initiative (C3E), which Kristina Johnson has talked about on this blog. C3E will bring together leaders from the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors in support of research, policies and activities that increase opportunities for women in the clean energy field. Governments, including the US, UK, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, the UAE and South Africa; and organizations, including the UN Foundation, Society of Women Engineers, the Earth Day Network, the Jemison Group and Patton Boggs have agreed to participate in the initiative.
The Women in Power Forum similarly brought together prominent women from across the electricity sector to share information on the current and future needs of the Nation’s electric grid. This year’s panels focused on hot-button topics in the industry including smart grid, cyber security and the integration of increasing amounts of renewable resources. In listening to the observations, opinions and lessons learned at the Forum, I was reminded that, while there aren’t enough of us in prominent positions in the electric industry, women are proving instrumental in driving the evolution of a modern grid.
It was an honor to be invited to address such a diverse, intelligent and inspiring group of influential women. As we develop the new generation of professionals in the new energy economy, we can only hope they cultivate the talent and drive of the leaders I saw at the Women in Power Forum. I’m looking forward to speaking next week at the Women in Communications and Energy Forum to continue to promote women in technical and leadership positions.