At the third Clean Energy Ministerial, an international forum held in London in late April, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan aimed at attracting more women to clean energy careers and supporting their advancement into leadership positions.

The new program was designed to fit within the ministerial’s Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) initiative, which seeks to inspire and connect women around clean energy issues. DOE’s new program, pursued in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is designed to translate the goals of C3E into concrete, meaningful action in the United States.

“The Department of Energy is committed to advancing American leadership in the global clean energy economy and capturing the new markets and jobs of the 21st century. We will be more successful in these endeavors if we harness the talents of all of our citizens,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Through the U.S. C3E initiative announced … we are excited to join with MIT to ensure we are leveraging the skills and experiences of women nationwide to help solve important national and international energy challenges.”

Highlighting the importance of this partnership, Susan Hockfield, MIT president, noted, “Inventing a sustainable energy future represents the defining challenge of our time. To make progress against a problem of such scale, complexity, and global scope demands the fullest range and depth of talent, ideas, and commitment; by definition, then, women must play essential roles in the drive toward transformative energy innovations. MIT is pleased to join with DOE to help develop and implement the C3E Initiative, and to sponsor both the Women in Clean Energy Symposium and the awards program this fall.”

These new activities help deliver on the U.S. commitment to C3E, launched by nine governments — Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States — at the first Clean Energy Ministerial held in July 2010.

As part of the new program, DOE and MIT will sponsor an awards program to recognize mid-career individuals who advance the leadership and accomplishments of women in clean energy. Six awards will be given and will include a cash prize of $10,000. Nominations will be accepted in several clean energy-related categories, including innovation and technology development, entrepreneurship and innovative business models, corporate implementation, policy and advocacy, and advancements for the developing world.

An invitation-only symposium, to be held on Sept. 28, 2012, will bring together women and men, including the award winners, academia, nongovernmental organizations, industry, and representatives from other C3E partner governments to help build a strong national and international community of professionals who support women in clean energy.

In addition to an awards ceremony, the symposium will feature small group sessions focusing on specific issues in clean energy, including barriers to the full participation of women in this sector. This is envisioned as an annual event.

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Publication date: 6/18/2012