Dudefest no more? Women are infiltrating cleantech

Read the full post at Grist.

Clean energy is one of the most dynamic sectors in the world — hot start-ups, technological whizbangery, cutthroat competition, billions in venture-capital investments, a race against the climate clock.

But there’s one aspect of the clean-energy field that’s just as sclerotic as the world of fossil fuels: patriarchy.

Men invented, engineered, invested in, and presided over the technologies and companies that made oil, coal, and natural gas the dominant fuels of our time. And now men are running the show at most of the firms pushing renewables, efficiency, clean cars, and the smart grid. There is only one female CEO, for instance, among the companies on The Wall Street Journal‘s recent list of top 10 cleantech enterprises, and only a small minority of the companies have women in senior executive positions.

The blog VentureBeat hilariously declared the whole cleantech sector to be a “sausagefest” in which “the glass ceiling … persists,” and listed 25 top cleantech companies that have no women on their boards.

But there’s more to the story. Look a little closer and you can see that women are gradually, quietly permeating clean-energy industries. Some are running their own start-ups. Some are climbing the ranks in big companies. Some are investing tens of millions in start-ups via venture-capital firms. They are still a small minority, to be sure, but there’s good reason to believe that women will play ever greater and more influential roles in the fast-evolving cleantech sector than they ever have in fossil fuels.

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