Women represent about a quarter of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields. With these fields being the backbone of energy innovation, and with similar gender ratios in clean energy finance and policy, closing the gender gap and increasing women’s participation and leadership in this sphere is the goal of the U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) program.
A partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE) and MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), the U.S. program is part of the international C3E Initiative within the 23-government Clean Energy Ministerial framework. The program held its second annual symposium, hosted by MIT, Sept. 19 - 20 at the MIT Media Lab.
Guler Sabanci, the chair and managing director of Sabanci Holding — Turkey’s leading industrial and financial conglomerate — kicked off the day and a half event. Sabanci cited figures indicating that women make up 80 percent of humanities majors, but only 11 percent of electrical engineering majors and 20 percent of physics majors.
“We definitely need more capable, determined, innovative women to work with us,” Sabanci said, noting that both clean energy and women have been underutilized. “We all believe the future belongs to both of them.”
The issue, Sabanci said, is not just about bringing more women into the clean energy workplace, but realizing that women bring an important perspective as “change agents” in their communities — a theme reflected throughout the event.