If the question is, “what is impacted by climate change?” the answer must be: everything and everyone.
As Secretary Clinton often says “it takes a village,” not just to raise a child, but to protect and sustain the world in which that child will grow up. Indeed, it takes the entire village to create systemic solutions because it is the entire village that influences the system and it is the entire village that is affected by the system. We need all of us, men and women, to address the issue of climate change and the need for an energy transition.
Currently, women comprise less than half of the clean energy workforce, which becomes even more apparent as you look to the executive level across all clean energy fields, from science and technology to policy, finance, and business development. Within the US energy sector, research firm GMI Ratings found that 61 percent of corporate boards have no female representation at all.
If we are to fully harness our potential as a society, we need to bring more women into the mix. Women should be part of the discussion about how we design our energy system – wind, solar, bioenergy, and more – for now and future generations. We know that the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of life, in science and math education, clean energy solutions, or policy development, is essential for ensuring prosperity, stability and health across the globe. This is why we must work together to increase the number of women working towards a secure energy future devoid of devastating climate change effects.
We are proud to celebrate the outstanding women in clean energy today. They are paving the foundation for change in our environment and in our economy, yet they are still the minority and too often, women are not represented in critical decision making roles in any sector. It’s time we all recognize that diverse perspectives drive better outcomes. Studies have shown that diverse teams consistently produced more accurate and successful solutions to complex situations than homogenous ones. And recent McKinsey research shows that firms with at least three women among the top 15 executives are more successful than those with no female executives.
We should envision a clean energy transition that celebrates and empowers women in leadership roles; as crucial decision makers, thought leaders, visionaries and systems thinkers. This involves supporting women in developing their technical, engineering, and leadership skills early on. Women hold nearly half of all the jobs in the American economy but only around a quarter of jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Earlier this year, Chelsea Clinton hosted a No Ceilings conversation, From STEM to Success, that brought together middle and high school aged girls with women in successful STEM careers to discuss overcoming barriers to participating in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as the greater economic and community benefits of engaging women in these fields.
Our conversation participants confirmed that the stereotypes facing young girls in STEM today are deeply ingrained in our social thinking; so many we spoke to told us that both men and women in their lives had perpetuated negative or limiting ideas about girls in science and technology. In a study released last year by MIT, researchers found that girls and women were less likely to believe in their own technical skills and were hesitant to pursue engineering careers. It’s important for girls and women, men and boys, to have female role models in STEM, to laud and support women who are breaking down barriers and working towards a clean energy future for all of us.
We need to change these perceptions to cultivate the next generation of female clean energy leaders; to inspire and mentor young women to pursue these important careers and support their advancement into leadership positions. Programs like the Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)’s Aspire IT Program – which Secretary Clinton announced at CGI America in June – are helping to provide young girls and women interested in STEM with support and mentorship, and are great examples for other countries to follow.
Working to build an evidence-based case for the full participation of women and girls, No Ceilings is collecting and analyzing data about the barriers to women’s involvement in all sectors including STEM. Women’s participation across the board is critical for prosperity and development in the 21st Century. The full participation of women and girls is embedded in the efforts of the Clinton Climate Initiative, which includes women’s empowerment in our systems thinking approach. Access to clean, affordable and reliable energy directly empowers women; as does providing opportunities for entrepreneurship, and integrating women’s voices into large scale planning for community resilience.
We must work together to ingrain systems thinking into our everyday lives, and the lives for generations to come. Our challenge is to think bigger, and to dig deeper to find the terms of our interdependency and work together to create lasting, whole systems solutions for our shared future.