Nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives has launched its national Women in Solar Program, which the organization describes as an effort to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive solar industry by providing pathways to technical careers for women, highlighting the voices of women of color in the industry, and providing national leadership on solar workforce diversity.
To mark the program launch, the regional arm GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic hosted its first all-women’s solar build on Saturday in Washington, D.C. The inaugural “We Build” event, sponsored by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), took place at the home of Bernice Rink, a single woman living on a fixed income. Bernice admits living on a fixed income by herself is a struggle, but thanks to the 2.85 kW solar system installed by the We Build crew, Rink will soon save $570 annually, making a large impact in her ability to save in the long term.
“Being able to participate in today’s We Build means a lot to me both personally and professionally,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Expanding diversity within our industry and customer base continues to be one of my top priorities. The benefits solar provides, both through well-paying jobs and cleaner air, deserve to be enjoyed by everyone – gender, race, socioeconomic class aside. Through initiatives like this one, our industry is leading the way to a more inclusive society.”
Women make up 28% of the solar workforce, according to The Solar Foundation’s 2016 National Solar Jobs Census, and although this proportion is growing, GRID Alternatives’ Women in Solar Program creates an intentional space to support women’s advancement in the solar industry.
“Our mission at GRID is to make this new clean economy accessible to everyone. As part of that mission, we strive to connect individuals of diverse backgrounds, races, and genders to training and career opportunities,” said Nicole Steele, executive director of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. “We Build is all about providing women a platform to network and advance within the solar industry.”
Photo courtesy of SEIA’s Twitter account: SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper (far right) stands next to homeowner Bernice Rink at GRID’s “We Build” event.