Women are accustomed to being in the minority at clean energy sector conferences -- and in most science and engineering careers, for that matter. But for participants at the Women in Clean Energy Symposium, which kicked off today at MIT and will go through Wednesday, the tables are turned.
For three years now, the C3E initiative, which stands for Clean Energy Education & Empowerment, has worked to advance women’s leadership in clean energy -- from education, research and advocacy to business, law and international development. Launched as part of the Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010, the C3E program is led by the Energy Department in partnership with the MIT Energy Initiative.
Designed to help women working in the clean energy sector build the skills and professional networks needed to succeed, this year’s symposium is focused on clean energy issues at the city level. Throughout the two-day event, women have the opportunity to participate in panel discussions on topics such as making the electric grid smarter and more reliable and transportation issues in urban cities. They also get to hear from leading women in the clean energy sector -- including Heather Foust-Cummings of Catalyst, a knowledge leader on gender, leadership and inclusive talent management; and Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
A centerpiece of the symposium are the C3E Awards, which recognize women for outstanding leadership and accomplishments in clean energy. This year’s eight mid-career winners work in a wide range of energy careers and backgrounds -- from an advocate working to defend the Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard to a researcher driving progress on smart-grids to a community college professor working with educators around the country to integrate sustainable energy into their programs. Learn more about all eight recipients of the 2014 C3E Awards.
In addition, each year C3E honors one woman with a Lifetime Achievement award. This year, that honoree is Susan F. Tierney, a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy who has been a bipartisan leader in energy, environmental and climate-change issues for decades in academia, government and business.
As Sharon Vosmek, the CEO of a nonprofit dedicated to launching more women-led ventures, said in her keynote address at last year’s symposium: “It’s not ‘nice’ to include women in the energy sector, it’s essential.”
Can’t attend this year’s event? Watch it live on C3Eawards.org, and follow the conversation on twitter using #C3EWomen. Join the online community of women working in clean energy around the world at C3Enet.org.