Recently, I attended the “Women & the Green Job Movement” panel hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and Zion & Zion.
Our very own Tina Robinson, exhibit director for the Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference, was asked to be part of the panel and speak on various aspects of women employment in the sustainability field. The roundtable was comprised of individuals from various organizations, cities and schools with a vested interest in women and their future in green jobs.
Jenny L. Erwin, regional administrator for the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, opened the roundtable discussion. Some of the main points covered were:
- Ensuring green jobs are “good jobs” with benefits and livable wages and career paths.
- Definitions of green jobs and other common terms that are understandable to a broad range of working women.
- Information on how women in community-based organizations focusing on women, women business owners, labor unions and others can access funds for green jobs.
- Best practices related to women.
- Green jobs that are in demand, new career paths and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The roundtable began with the reason we were all gathered at the event — where do women fit in the green industry? Though the number of green jobs is on the rise, there is indeed a disparity in the quality and quantity of jobs available to men and women. This spurred discussion on why this paradox exists.
One of the main issues women must face as we try to alter this uneven landscape is changing the perception that women can’t hold jobs in male-dominated industries. The math and science-related fields are typically over-represented by men, and changing this will be the first step in encouraging women to enter the green industry.
I left the roundtable discussion with a bright outlook. Green industry jobs vary; some are more technical than others; and there is always room for those who need to market the technology and spread the message to others. Bottom line — there is a huge opportunity for women to capitalize on the amazing benefits the green movement offers. So let’s get to it ladies!