We speak with the finalist of the first Solar Gender Award 2021, Remote Energy, about their work in teaching technical solar skills to women, from Kenya to India, and how important and inspiring it is to be taught by women for women.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your main work on gender and diversity?
I am a IREC PV Master Trainer and I have been teaching solar technical courses for over 20 years. It is immediately apparent in solar training classrooms that there is a lack of women attending these classes and teaching these classes. I want to change that.
The Remote Energy’s Women’s Program addresses the lack of women in co-ed classes by teaching all-female classes, taught for women by professional solar women technicians. This simple change increases the number of women attending solar courses and addresses the some of the major barriers for women entering the field cited in the IRENA 2019 Gender Perspective Study. In one women’s-only solar program that I taught, we were able to double the number of women attending the solar training program. In another train-the-trainers solar program, we were able to increase the number of women attending by 5-fold by offering women’s-only classes.
2. What first made you want to apply for this award?
The Remote Energy Women’s Program and women’s only classes offer a simple but essential solution that has the ability to change the traditional male dominated solar industry into one that is gender balanced. Over the next 10-20 years the solar industry is set to grow rapidly, and it is extremely important that it grows to be more inclusive to benefit all people.
3. Do you have any advice for young women or young organizations out there on how to improve the equality in one’s workspace?
All women entering the solar industry need to understand that their voice is important. By participating in their company, they are adding an essential perspective to the industry which will lead to more inclusive companies and serve a more inclusive client base. So don’t be afraid to speak up. We need your voices!
4. What is the solar sector as a whole currently doing well and what might it improve, regarding gender diversity and diversity in general?
We need to reach more diverse audiences and communities within the solar industry. To do this successfully, each region should have local trained experts who can address regional changing solar needs. They can be the role models for their community and inspire others to join this growing industry, by example. I am happy to see more companies and individuals looking at how to make their own companies more diverse and inclusive – and in turn I believe individual community needs will be better addressed.
5. Can you talk about the scope and reach of your program?
The Remote Energy Women’s Program is training more women for technical solar jobs, and we also need companies willing to look at their hiring processes and internal culture to make space for these women to be hired into good paying solar positions. Our Women’s Program is actively training female solar educators to be in front of the room as role models at technical colleges for the next generation of women wanting to pursue clean energy. These community role models are reaching out to young girls in the grade school and high school levels to let them know this is a good work option for them in the future. We are providing a pathway to first inspire girls to consider this STEM career, then offering a safe women’s only learning environment to learn the skills to succeed, and then partnering with companies looking to hire trained women and provide them with on-the-job experience.
photo credit: Remote Energy / classroom in Kenya