Celebrating Female Leaders in Sustainability

The 2nd Annual Women In Green Forum
Will Celebrate Female Leaders In Sustainability

By Jaime Nack, Broads Circle Premium Member
President, Three Squares Inc.

Is President Obama’s emphasis on green jobs in his stimulus legislation–$55 million in funds directed toward developing green training programs–a 21st-century version of the New Deal? If yes, is it a gender-neutral New Deal?

According to labor statistics, the answer is “no.”

It turns out that a disproportionate number of “green” jobs are in fields traditionally dominated by men, especially in the alternative energy area. A study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new green jobs are either in engineering (12 percent women) or in the men-dominated professions of law and consulting. Most of the rest are in industries dominated by men (where women are 25 percent or less of the workforce): manufacturing, construction, agriculture and forestry. Some reports show that jobs in these fields often pay 20 to 30 percent more than jobs in traditionally women-dominated fields, and frequently have better benefits, greater career training and advancement opportunities and higher reported levels of job satisfaction.

According to the Women’s Bureau Division of the United States Department of Labor, “Green jobs are diverse, rewarding and overwhelmingly nontraditional to women.” Green jobs could be rewarding indeed to the job-starved economic recovery.

According to the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, every state is seeing growth in at least one green industry segment–including energy conservation, waste management and clean energy.

But while many companies are looking to develop green technologies, they are encountering a skills gap in the laborforce. For example, a review of literature by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the lack of a skilled and well-trained work force is a barrier to growth in the solar power sector.

Does this gap provide an opportunity for women to step in? The answer is “yes.”

Policymakers, funders, employers, workforce professionals, advocates, training and education providers are targeting efforts to ensure that women recognize and take advantage of the opportunities offered by green occupations.

At the forefront of such efforts is the Women In Green Forum, a two-day conference taking place August 30-31, 2011 at theSheraton Delfina in Santa Monica, CA. Last year’s inaugural Women In Green Forum successfully brought together over 500 leaders in sustainability, emerging as the nation’s largest conference for women in environmental careers. Notable Forum speakers included California State Senator Fran Pavley, actress and activist Gloria Rueben, General Motors’ Director of Global Energy Systems & Infrastructure Comm. Britta K. Gross, and Wal-Mart’s Director of Store Operations & Sustainability Vonda Lockwood.

This year’s 2nd Annual Forum will build on the success of 2010, offering skill-building sessions and clean vehicle test-drives in addition to traditional panels and keynote sessions. Ultimately, the Forum celebrates and inspires leadership of women in environmental industries and offers professionals the opportunity to build their careers through professional relationships.

Women’s professional networks, like Broads Circle, have been a mechanism for cultivating long-term relationships.  The Forum’s intention of creating a strong network of sustainability professionals will support women getting and keeping green-collar jobs. The range of green jobs includes occupations which have traditionally attracted women (eco fashion, interior design, natural health/beauty products, environmental media), as well as career paths which have traditionally been dominated by men (labor-intensive construction positions, green architecture, energy efficiency, clean transportation, renewable energy and urban planning).  While new events and organizations are being created to support women’s entrance into these professions, momentum must continue to build behind policies and practices that encourage girls to pursue education in science and technology and which open doors for women to pursue careers in the expanding green workforce.

>>>Interested in attending the
2nd Annual
Women In Green Forum?
Visit http://www.womeningreenforum.com/ to learn more.

Three Squares Inc.



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