04/24/14 : Kateri Callahan

Needed and Wanted: Women Leaders to Help Create a New Energy World Order

Tackling the most critical energy challenges facing our nation and our world requires strong leadership – leadership from a diversity of voices and perspectives, including women.

Why is this important?

Study after study shows that having diverse perspectives at the table when decisions are made results in better outcomes and better “bottom lines”. Studies also reveal a huge dearth of females in energy sector leadership:  sixty-one percent – that’s right, much more than half -- of U.S. energy companies have zero women on their boards.  

We need to change the balance of women to men in energy if we are to succeed in creating a sustainable global energy economy that can support job growth and provide access to energy for all while protecting Earth’s resources and environment. This job is simply too big and too important for men to tackle alone!

How do we expand the circle of influence to include more women?

One good way is a focused program to celebrate women in the energy field and to encourage and help women move into decision-making roles. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has established just such a program! The DOE’s Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) program is designed to advance the careers and leadership of women in the field of clean energy. I am proud to serve as a C3E Ambassador, supporting this work.

So, how do we get this movement going around the world?

C3E is part of a larger, international initiative through the Clean Energy Ministerial. DOE is working together with eight other partner governments to help close the gender gap in the energy sector, especially at senior levels. Central to this effort is the C3E Awards program for mid-career leadership, now in its third year.

Led by the MIT Energy Initiative as part of an overarching collaboration with DOE, the Awards recognize the contributions of the high-achieving, high-potential women in the clean energy field. Previous winners include Judy Dorsey, who spearheaded a zero-energy district in Ft Collins, Colorado; Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer, and Kirstin Gunderson, a senior manager at Wal-Mart who led the installation of Walmart’s first 1 MW onsite wind turbine in Red Bluff, California.

Will you join us in finding the women who are creating a New Energy World Order?

This year there are eight categories in which emerging leaders can be nominated for a C3E Award, and each comes with an $8,000 cash prize from MITEI. I know from experience that women are doing some of the most innovative and impactful work in the clean energy sector. I hope that you will help my fellow Ambassadors and me to discover and recognize the next generation of women leaders who can and will help to create a better, sustainable New Energy World Order.

Information about the nomination process, the eight categories, and eligibility can be found at www.C3EAwards.org. Nominations for the 2014 Awards close on May 15.