The clean energy industry has been historically male-dominated with only a handful of women working in clean energy fields. But many hope to open the doors for the next generation to break into cutting-edge industries.
In 2020, the IEA reported that while women make up 48 percent of the workforce globally, only 22 percent of jobs in the oil and gas industry belong to women. Further, women only account for 32 percent of careers in the renewables industry.
However, a recent report shows that while there is still room for improvement, women are increasingly breaking into the clean energy industry. This International Women’s Day, Choose Energy is discussing a few of the trailblazing women in clean energy fields.
Dr. Dongmei “Maggie” Chen is one of them.
Twelve years ago, she joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, when she was one of only six female faculty members in the 60-person mechanical engineering department.
According to Dr. Chen, there were not nearly enough role models for women in the industry. During her first year of teaching, she had just one or two female students in her classes. She understood the experience of isolation and felt a personal responsibility to compensate for the lack of peer support.
Dr. Chen kept long office hours and an open-door policy, providing extra help and career advice whenever asked. She also commends recruitment efforts by her colleague, Dr. Carolyn Seepersad, who worked tirelessly to attract more females to the university’s mechanical engineering department.
Today, 11 females are on the faculty, nearly double the number from ten years ago. Slowly but surely, women are gaining momentum in higher-tiered STEM fields. Even so, women still represent only a fraction of researchers and workers, and many fields remain entirely male-dominated.