Horton Hears a Woman in Energy: We are here! We are here!
May 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Check out this blog at The Energy Collective as well!
The National Women’s Leadership Summit recently held its fourth summit in three years here in DC. I was once again astounded at how many women were in the room. As far as the eye could see were women—some young, some older, many nationalities and backgrounds—all connected to the energy industry.
In my 26 years working in energy, I have found myself all too often the only woman on the panel or one of a very few in attendance at any given conference. NWLS is not the only group bringing smart women together around energy issues. The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment is an enormous network that holds workshops, policy luncheons, and an annual gala. The Women’s Energy Resource Council is a recently formed group of inside the beltway movers and shakers in energy who happen to be women. Many more organizations bring women together in a variety of fields.
Why do women need these groups? Because, despite the fact that many of us have been in the industry for decades, we are still sorely lacking for women in engineering, women utility executives, women investors, women innovators—and women in Congress. In fact, in this latter group, we are losing seats and have fewer this Congress than in the previous. Groups that bring together women to share stories, create contacts, and develop mentor relationships, affirm our understanding that the energy industry is not the sole purview of men.
Someone once told me: men FIX things; thus many engineers are men. My counter to that is that women SOLVE things, making women invaluable contributors to the engineering profession. Women are particularly good at collaborating, creative problem-solving, listening and learning from others, and making connections through relationships that can turn into valuable business plans. Women look at things differently than men—not necessarily better, just different.
As I spoke on the panel at NWLS and looked out at the sea of smiling faces, I said, “THANK YOU for doing this, thank you for including us in this important conversation about energy policy.” Women need to continue to be part of that debate as we struggle to define what our national energy policy should look like. Congress–83% male—continues to craft legislation that impacts women—51% of the US population—in ways they may not consider.
NWLS and all the other women’s groups out there continue to bring us together so that we can make a difference in those policies that affect all of us.