As wind power ramps up – having installed more new electricity generating capacity than any other energy source in America last year – so, too, are new opportunities for jobs and leadership positions for women in the U.S. industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
American wind power supports 73,000 jobs today. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by supplying 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030, wind power could support 380,000 jobs, says AWEA.
As women are increasingly filling high-tech wind jobs, AWEA says, these changes will be reflected at this year’s WINDPOWER 2016, taking place in New Orleans May 23-26. For example, the conference will feature an Emerging Leaders program, as well as scholarship opportunities for the Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) and Wind Energy Foundation’s (WEF) Wind at our Back program.
“Women are helping to write the next chapter of American wind power,” explains Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “As wind energy scales up to supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, a strong, diverse industry is needed to help us get there. These programs and scholarship opportunities are going to help make sure that happens.”
AWEA says its Emerging Leaders program was unveiled during last year’s WINDPOWER and will expand this year. The program is designed to recognize rising talent, provide opportunities for mentoring, and enhance knowledge sharing and skill development. Fifteen emerging leaders were selected last year, with more than a third of those being women.
WoWE, a nonprofit group promoting the advancement of women in the wind industry, provides opportunities for women through its Rudd Mayer scholarship program. Complementing this, WEF recently announced “Wind at our Backs: Furthering the education of women in wind energy,” a program designed to help further diversify the wind energy workforce.
The new scholarship program, originally conceived by NextEra Energy, is sponsored by Blattner Energy, GE Renewable Energy, the NextEra Energy Foundation and Suzlon. It targets women working toward degrees or certifications in wind energy and will offer $2,500 for up to 15 applicants over the next three years.
“Women have been historically underrepresented across the U.S. energy landscape,” says John Kostyack, executive director of WEF. “This scholarship helps women seeking careers in wind energy to network with potential future employers and enables recipients to complete the coursework and certifications necessary to advance.”