This month marks the 30th anniversary of Congress passing L. 100-9 which designated the month of March as Women’s History Month. It is a time of reflecting on headway made while simultaneously pushing forward towards gender equality in the future. Throughout history, women have made incredible contributions to the science and technology communities. In fact, women laid the very foundations for TerraPower’s work today. Our work on new technology in the nuclear industry would not be possible without breakthroughs from greats like Ada Lovelace or Irène Joliot-Curie.
In the spirit of Ada, Irène and Women’s History Month, it is important to continue to look forward and acknowledge the progress that still needs to be made. Companies must continue to evolve and push forward into the next generation of workplace, one that will see women in well-paying jobs and leadership positions. The question is, how do we get there? Women represent a mere 22 to 34 percent (depending on sector) of the energy industry, compared to 47 percent of the workforce as a whole. Compounding that figure is the fact that women make up only 14 percent of senior management at the top two hundred power and utility companies. Although there has been somewhat of an upward tick in these numbers in recent years, it is still far from where we need to be as an industry.
Recruitment is the starting line of this effort. Getting young professionals interested and committed is critical for any industry’s survival. It is important to have a class of recruits ready to fill the shoes of those who are advancing up the ladder. The latest study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows that nearly one million women graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in the sciences and engineering field. Our industry needs to tap into the increasing number of women who are pursuing STEM degrees. With numbers like these, it shouldn’t be difficult.
But the process doesn’t stop here. This is just the beginning of the journey of a young professional’s growth and career. Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss the importance of succession planning for women in the energy industry.