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Women, Renewable Energy, and International Women’s Day: A Conversation with WoWE

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In anticipation of International Women’s Day this weekend, I caught up with Kristen Graf, the executive director of Women of Wind Energy (and an esteemed former colleague). Below are notes from our conversation, with bonus links and added emphases.

Kristen Graf of WoWE (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy C3E Program)

Kristen Graf of WoWE (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy C3E Program)

JR: What is WoWE?

Kristen Graf (KG): Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) is a national nonprofit that works to promote the education, professional development, and advancement of women to achieve a strong diversified workforce and support a robust renewable energy economy.

WoWE programs include the Rudd Mayer Fellowship that brings 6-10 students or recent graduates to the WINDPOWER conference each year; an online mentoring program; annual honors like Woman of the Year, Rising Star, and WoWE Champion; and career development programs like our Leadership Forum and Webinar series.

We also have 35 chapters around the U.S. and Canada doing work towards our mission at the local level.

Inside a wind turbine tower (Credit: Lisa Daniels and WoWE)
Inside a wind turbine tower (Credit: Lisa Daniels and WoWE)

JR: Why is it important to specifically highlight the role of women?

KG: I fundamentally believe that the success of renewable energy in the U.S. and around the world depends on our ability to bring together the best minds from as many diverse backgrounds as possible to solve the critical problems of our day. Reports continue to show that having more women on teams leads to better decisions and better financial performance as well, so we know we need them there.

The more we can highlight the great women around the field, the more other women can see a path forward for themselves and the better our chances of retaining and advancing them to the decision-making tables where they are desperately needed — whether at the helm of a company, on the manufacturing floor, or in the halls of Congress.

JR: How can people get involved in WoWE?

KG: One of the great things about WoWE is all the different ways to get connected and be involved. For those just interested in learning a little bit more, our social media communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are a great place to start. For those that happen to be near one of our 35 chapters, getting connected to a local WoWE community is an incredible way to get connected and experience the power and fun of WoWE first hand.

WoWE National Luncheon (Credit: Abby Krich and WoWE)

WoWE National Luncheon (Credit: Abby Krich and WoWE)

To participate in our Mentoring Program and connect with others all over the country, anyone can become a member of WoWE and get access to our online Member Community, including our member directory and webinar archive.

And I want to be clear, WoWE isn’t just for women; we have a lot of incredible men involved (from our chapters to our mentoring program) that understand how important this is for the industry and recognize what an incredible networking opportunity we provide.

JR: What’s in the near future for WoWE?

KG: Right now we are in the midst of a really challenging time for the wind industry. There is incredible growth, but it is sandwiched within a lot of political uncertainty. We, as WoWE, recognize that in order to get a lot more women in the door we need to see the industry as stable and healthy as possible, so we’re working this year to launch a new program we’re calling Take Charge.

The idea is to leverage the expertise and voice of our incredible network to help women all over the country take charge of their energy future. We believe there is a need to better tell the story of wind and renewables and we believe we can do that by showcasing the passion and expertise of our network.

We want the WoWE network to go out and help activate other women in their communities that we know care about these issues, and leverage their voices together into the local, state, and national conversations about our energy choices and our energy future.

JR: Thanks for your time, Kristy, and good luck to you and WoWE, on International Women’s Day, and far beyond.

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Selected organizations active in women and energy issues in the U.S.

Know of others to add to the list? Weigh in via the comments section below!

Posted in: Energy Tags: ,

About the author: John Rogers is a senior energy analyst with expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and policies. He co-manages the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3) at UCS that looks at water demands of energy production in the context of climate change. He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. See John's full bio.

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