Solar energy has been, and continues to be, a male-dominated field. According to The Solar Foundation, as of 2015, women made up 24 percent of the solar workforce. Things are changing, however, although slowly. The reason? Women are beginning to realize that solar energy is an industry that is growing in leaps and bounds, bringing with that growth a wealth of new, highly skilled, well-paying jobs.

This guide is here to help women learn about what the solar energy field has to offer them, with information and advice on education and career options, scholarship opportunities, salary estimates, industry trends and much more.

Top Careers for Women in Solar

Working in solar involves a lot more than simply putting panels on roofs. The solar industry employs professionals with skills in sales and distribution, manufacturing of solar power materials, construction and operation of solar plants, research and development, software development, as well as installation and maintenance of solar panels and other equipment. Here’s a small sample of the types of jobs that can be found in solar:

Construction Managers
$87,400
See Description

In the solar industry, construction managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations on solar plant construction sites, from initial site selection to the final phases of construction work. Additional office tasks include managing permits and contracts, and making sure construction activities are carried out safely, on time and on budget.

  • Median
    Salary

    $87,400

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    5%

  • Number
    Employed

    711,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    7.4

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s in construction science, construction management, architecture or engineering.

Electricians
$51,880
See Description

Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical fixtures, wiring and other equipment. In the solar industry, that can include working on solar plant construction sites or installation of solar systems on private homes and commercial buildings. Some jurisdictions require licensed electricians to connect public and private solar systems to existing electrical grids.

  • Median
    Salary

    $51,880

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    14%

  • Number
    Employed

    769,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    2.4

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma, plus technical school courses and/or apprenticeship.

In the solar industry, construction managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations on solar plant construction sites, from initial site selection to the final phases of construction work. Additional office tasks include managing permits and contracts, and making sure construction activities are carried out safely, on time and on budget.

  • Median
    Salary

    $87,400

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    5%

  • Number
    Employed

    711,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    7.4

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s in construction science, construction management, architecture or engineering.

Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical fixtures, wiring and other equipment. In the solar industry, that can include working on solar plant construction sites or installation of solar systems on private homes and commercial buildings. Some jurisdictions require licensed electricians to connect public and private solar systems to existing electrical grids.

  • Median
    Salary

    $51,880

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    14%

  • Number
    Employed

    769,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    2.4

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma, plus technical school courses and/or apprenticeship.

Industrial Production Managers

$93,940
See Description

Industrial production managers oversee the operations within a manufacturing plant or factory, such as a solar panel production facility. Industrial production managers are directly responsible for work on the factory floor, making sure that production is running safely, effectively and on-schedule. They continually evaluate equipment and procedures, making changes to enhance production.

  • Median
    Salary

    $93,940

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    – 4%

  • Number
    Employed

    273,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    17.8

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Industrial Engineering or other field.

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters
$50,620
See Description

The construction and operation of solar plants requires the installation, maintenance and repair of extensive pipe systems. Pipes in solar facilities often carry water, steam and other materials under high temperatures and pressure and must be monitored and regulated constantly.

  • Median
    Salary

    $50,620

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    12%

  • Number
    Employed

    564,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    1.6

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma or equivalent, plus technical school and/or apprenticeship.

Industrial production managers oversee the operations within a manufacturing plant or factory, such as a solar panel production facility. Industrial production managers are directly responsible for work on the factory floor, making sure that production is running safely, effectively and on-schedule. They continually evaluate equipment and procedures, making changes to enhance production.

  • Median
    Salary

    $93,940

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    – 4%

  • Number
    Employed

    273,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    17.8

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Industrial Engineering or other field.

The construction and operation of solar plants requires the installation, maintenance and repair of extensive pipe systems. Pipes in solar facilities often carry water, steam and other materials under high temperatures and pressure and must be monitored and regulated constantly.

  • Median
    Salary

    $50,620

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    12%

  • Number
    Employed

    564,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    1.6

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma or equivalent, plus technical school and/or apprenticeship.

Sales Representatives (Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products)
$76,190
See Description

Sales representatives in solar energy are the first line of contact between solar product manufacturers and the public. They typically work in stores or sales offices and/or make calls to individuals and businesses to make presentations, submit proposals and quotes, and draw up contracts for customers.

  • Median
    Salary

    $76,190

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    7%

  • Number
    Employed

    1,309,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    29.3

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s Degree.

Solar Voltaic Installers


$37,830
See Description

Solar voltaic installers are the workers directly responsible for the physical installation of solar equipment on residential and commercial buildings, and other structures. Tasks include planning system configuration, installing panels and support structures, connecting panels to the power grid, testing systems to verify proper performance and performing routine maintenance.

  • Median
    Salary

    $37,830

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    24%

  • Number
    Employed

    14,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    2.0

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma plus on-the-job training, community or technical college courses, or apprenticeship.

Sales representatives in solar energy are the first line of contact between solar product manufacturers and the public. They typically work in stores or sales offices and/or make calls to individuals and businesses to make presentations, submit proposals and quotes, and draw up contracts for customers.

  • Median
    Salary

    $76,190

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    7%

  • Number
    Employed

    1,309,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    29.3

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s Degree.

Solar voltaic installers are the workers directly responsible for the physical installation of solar equipment on residential and commercial buildings, and other structures. Tasks include planning system configuration, installing panels and support structures, connecting panels to the power grid, testing systems to verify proper performance and performing routine maintenance.

  • Median
    Salary

    $37,830

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    24%

  • Number
    Employed

    14,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    2.0

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma plus on-the-job training, community or technical college courses, or apprenticeship.

Welding, Soldering and Brazing Workers
$38,150
See Description

Welding, soldering and brazing involve the application of heat to metal, melting and fusing pieces together to create a permanent bond. The manufacturing sector of the solar industry is primarily concerned with the technologies for concentrating solar power (CSP), photovoltaic solar power and solar water heating.

  • Median
    Salary

    $38,150

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    4%

  • Number
    Employed

    625,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    4.8

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma or equivalent, plus technical and on-the-job training.

General and Operations Managers

$97,730
See Description

Solar energy companies are, first and foremost, businesses that need competent management with both solid technical and management skills. General and Operations Managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a business, as well as take part with senior staff in formulating organizational policies.

  • Median
    Salary

    $97,730

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    7%

  • Number
    Employed

    887,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    29.5

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s degree in management, business or related field.

Welding, soldering and brazing involve the application of heat to metal, melting and fusing pieces together to create a permanent bond. The manufacturing sector of the solar industry is primarily concerned with the technologies for concentrating solar power (CSP), photovoltaic solar power and solar water heating.

  • Median
    Salary

    $38,150

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    4%

  • Number
    Employed

    625,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    4.8

  • Minimum
    Education

    High School Diploma or equivalent, plus technical and on-the-job training.

Solar energy companies are, first and foremost, businesses that need competent management with both solid technical and management skills. General and Operations Managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a business, as well as take part with senior staff in formulating organizational policies.

  • Median
    Salary

    $97,730

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    7%

  • Number
    Employed

    887,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    29.5

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s degree in management, business or related field.

Human Resource Managers
$104,440
See Description

The solar industry today is expanding and requires skilled human resources personnel to recruit, interview and hire new staff. Human resources managers are also involved their organizations’ strategic planning and act as the link between management and employees.

  • Median
    Salary

    $104,440

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    9%

  • Number
    Employed

    236,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    74.4

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s degree in human resources or related field.

Marketing and Sales Managers
$116,810*
See Description

Solar companies sell products (panels, installation hardware, inverters, etc.) and therefore need trained sales and marketing people to make those sales. Marketing and sales managers match a company’s products to its customers’ needs. They typically work directly for manufacturers, distributers, installers and consulting firms.

  • Median
    Salary

    $116,810*

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    7%*

  • Number
    Employed

    917,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    46.1

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s degree in sales, marketing or closely related subject.

* Includes Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers.

The solar industry today is expanding and requires skilled human resources personnel to recruit, interview and hire new staff. Human resources managers are also involved their organizations’ strategic planning and act as the link between management and employees.

  • Median
    Salary

    $104,440

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    9%

  • Number
    Employed

    236,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    74.4

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s degree in human resources or related field.

Solar companies sell products (panels, installation hardware, inverters, etc.) and therefore need trained sales and marketing people to make those sales. Marketing and sales managers match a company’s products to its customers’ needs. They typically work directly for manufacturers, distributers, installers and consulting firms.

  • Median
    Salary

    $116,810*

  • Estimated
    Job Growth

    7%*

  • Number
    Employed

    917,000

  • % Women
    Employed

    46.1

  • Minimum
    Education

    Bachelor’s degree in sales, marketing or closely related subject.

* Includes Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers.

[Sources: BLS, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook December 2015; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Payscale.com.]
Estimated job growth statistics are for 2014-2024
Statistics are for job titles generally. Not specific to the solar industry.

If you are interested in something where you are not on the roof, there are roles ranging from sales and marketing through every aspect of business. There are a lot of women doing software design or electrical engineering. It’s a case of working out what you want to be because for every standard business role there are people in solar.

Deborah Knuckey

Women Leading the Solar Charge

Along with our two experts, there are many more women leading the way in solar. Whether through traditional business routes or nonprofit, advocacy avenues, these women are finding success in their clean energy careers:

  • Bernadette

    Prior to coming to the CSEIA, Del Chiaro was a leading voice within several major California clean energy policy initiatives. She has authored several clean energy reports and has been quoted widely in the media including MSNBC, NPR and the New York Times.

    Bernadette Del Chiaro California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) Executive Director
  • Eden

    Named one of the 30 under 30 in Forbes’ Energy & Industry three years in a row, Full Goh is a software and mechanical engineer and the inventor of the SunSaluter, a low-cost mechanism that optimizes solar panels while providing clean water for rural, off-grid communities.

    Eden Full Goh SunSaluter Board of Directors, Founder and Chair
  • Julia

    President and CEO of SEPA since 2004, Hamm is an expert on the nexus between utilities and solar energy. Hamm oversees all of SEPA’s research, education, and collaboration activities for its more than 900 member companies.

    Julia Hamm Smart Electric Power Alliance President and CEO
  • Tamika

    As the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Director of Workforce Development, Jacques oversees all aspects of the center’s administering, advising and implementing programs.

    Tamika Jacques Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Director of Workforce Development
  • Terry

    Jester is a 35-year veteran of the solar industry with extensive leadership experience in the manufacturing and engineering of photovoltaics. She joined Silicor Materials in 2010.

    Terry Jester Silicor Materials Chairman and CEO
  • Lynn

    Jurich is the CEO and co-founder of Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the United States. She is named on both Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2013 and Forbes’ Women to Watch in 2015 lists.

    Lynn Jurich Sunrun Co-Founder and CEO
  • Kent

    Kent is President of The Solar Store in Tucson, Arizona, where she has designed and supervised the installation of thousands of residential and commercial solar installations.

    Katharine Kent The Solar Store President
  • Lucey

    Lucey is CEO and Founder of Solar Sister. She is a 2015 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, an Ashoka Fellow and a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur.

    Katherine Lucey Solar Sister Founder and CEO
  • Erica

    Mackie co-founded GRID Alternatives in 2001, developing it into a major national non-profit. She holds two bachelor’s degrees (Mechanical Engineering and Physics) from Southern Illinois University.

    Erica Mackie GRID Alternatives CEO
  • Caroline

    As a Senior Manager at SunPower, Mead handles utility sales and origination of solar development assets. Prior to her current position, she was Senior Manager of Origination at Infigen Energy, a solar pipeline company acquired by SunPower in 2015.

    Caroline Mead SunPower Corporation Senior Manager, Utility Sales
  • Kristin

    Nicole is a solar industry and power systems professional with a research focus on strategies to address the power systems integration and variability challenges associated with solar energy and other renewable technologies.

    Kristin Nicole EnterSolar Director of Business Development Women in Solar Energy (WISE) Executive Director
  • Raina

    Combining an engineering background, construction experience, and passion for solar advocacy, Russo founded Women4Solar, an organization that connects Florida homeowners and businesses interested in solar energy with solar installers.

    Raina Russo Women4Solar Founder
  • Alissa

    As Solar Communications and Policy Manager for SACE, Schafer promotes solar energy through public outreach, advocacy, and policy support. She additionally advocates for pro-solar policies with Floridians for Solar Choice and Women in Solar Energy.

    Alissa Jean Schafer Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Solar Communications and Policy Manager
  • Laura

    A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, Stachel advocates for sustainable energy solutions for women’s health. She has received numerous awards for her work with We Care Solar, and was named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013.

    Laura E. Stachel We Care Solar Executive Director
  • Claudia

    Wentworth is CEO of Quick Mount PV, where she leads the effort to create a guiding vision and strategic direction for the company. She has been active in the solar industry since 2000 and in the green building and construction industries for more than 20 years.

    Claudia Wentworth Quick Mount PV Co-Founder and CEO

BY THE NUMBERS: Women in Energy Industries

Throughout the energy sector, women are underrepresented. While the number of women in solar increased about 2 percent from 2014 to 2015, women still only represent less than a quarter of solar jobs:

Women Employed in Solar By Industry Sector

[Source: The Solar Foundation: National Solar Jobs Census, 2015.]
*Includes research and development firms, finance and legal firms, nonprofits, government agencies, solar training providers, and academic research centers.

IN-DEPTH: STEM Careers for Women in the Solar Industry

Gender inequality is not an exclusive problem for the solar industry, of course. Gender issues exist in every sector of the economy and corner of the job market. This is particularly true when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. Fortunately, some companies recognize the problem and are now actively recruiting women, which means that now is a great time for women to pursue STEM-related opportunities in solar energy. Solar energy jobs exist in all four STEM fields. Here are just a few examples:

Degree: Computer Science
  • Computer Support Specialists

    Computer support specialists work in solar company (particularly solar plant) IT departments analyzing, troubleshooting and repairing network problems.

    Median Salary $51,470
    % Women Employed 26.6
    Estimated Job Growth 12%
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators

    Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of local- and wide-area networks to keep solar systems connected to and working with larger power grids.

    Median Salary $77,810
    % Women Employed 19.1
    Estimated Job Growth 8%
  • Software Developers

    Computer software is commonly used in the solar energy field in everything from running home solar systems to forecasting weather and sunlight patterns in the assessment of an area’s solar power potential.

    Median Salary $100,690
    % Women Employed 19.8
    Estimated Job Growth 17%
Degree: Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

    Electrical and electronics technicians assist engineers to design electrical equipment for solar panels, inverters and other related devices.

    Median Salary $61,130
    % Women Employed 20.5*
    Estimated Job Growth -2%

    *All Engineering Technicians, except drafters.

  • Electrical and Electronics Engineers

    Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop and test electrical circuitry for solar panels and supporting devices such as inverters and wiring systems.

    Median Salary $95,230
    % Women Employed 12.3
    Estimated Job Growth 0%
  • Industrial Engineers

    Industrial engineers in the solar industry focus on designing and improving manufacturing processes for producing solar systems and related equipment.

    Median Salary $83,470
    % Women Employed 16.0
    Estimated Job Growth 1%
Degree: Mathematics
  • Market Research Analysts

    Market research analysts in the solar field monitor, study and forecast sales and marketing trends for solar systems and equipment to help their companies better allocate resources and plan for the future.

    Median Salary $62,150
    % Women Employed 60.8
    Estimated Job Growth 19%

    *Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists.

  • Operations Research Analysts

    A position most likely found with larger, utility-scale solar companies, the operations research analyst applies advanced mathematical and analytical processes to help systems run for efficiently and effectively.

    Median Salary $78,630
    % Women Employed 55.4
    Estimated Job Growth 30%
  • Statisticians

    Statisticians employ statistical models and methods to help resolve problems in both the business and engineering sectors of the solar industry.

    Median Salary $80,110
    % Women Employed 49.9
    Estimated Job Growth 34%
Degree: Mechanical Engineering
  • Civil Engineers

    Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of photovoltaic solar power plants of all sizes.

    Median Salary $82,220
    % Women Employed 16.5
    Estimated Job Growth 8%
  • Mechanical Engineers

    Mechanical engineers design, develop and test new mechanical devices, including the electric generators and pumps used in solar power plants.

    Median Salary $83,590
    % Women Employed 8.8
    Estimated Job Growth 5%
  • Mechanical Engineering Technicians

    Mechanical engineering technicians assist mechanical engineers in the development, testing and manufacturing of solar panels and other related equipment.

    Median Salary $53,910
    % Women Employed 20.5*
    Estimated Job Growth 2%

    *All Engineering Technicians, except drafters.

Degree: Natural Sciences
  • Chemical Engineers

    Chemical engineers in the solar industry focus on semiconductors or organic chemistry since both areas are involved in the manufacturing of solar panels.

    Median Salary $97,360
    % Women Employed 13.0
    Estimated Job Growth 2%
  • Environmental Scientists

    Environmental scientists are employed in the field of solar energy to develop plans to minimize the potential for damage to fragile ecosystems in places, like the desert, where solar plants are located.

    Median Salary $67,460
    % Women Employed 24.5*
    Estimated Job Growth 11%

    *Environmental Scientists and Geoscientists.

  • Physicists

    Physicists in the solar industry work to improve solar panel efficiency and discover new materials to use in solar panel generation.

    Median Salary $118,580
    % Women Employed 25.0*
    Estimated Job Growth 8%

    *Includes both Physicists and Astronomers.

Sources: BLS: Careers in Solar Power; BLS, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook December 2015; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Payscale.com. Estimated job growth statistics are for 2014-2024. Statistics are for job titles generally. Not specific to the solar industry.

STEM Scholarships for Women Going Solar

American Association of University Women: Selected Professions Fellowship (Computer/Information Sciences)

Program sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) offering fellowships of $5,000 to $18,000 to women pursuing master’s degree programs in computer or information sciences. Awards based on academic excellence (40 percent), professional promise and personal attributes (50 percent), and financial need (10 percent).

Mary R. Norton Memorial Scholarship for Women

The Mary R. Martin Scholarship for Women is a $500 award given to a prospective college senior or first-year graduate student interested in a career in physical metallurgy or materials science. Sponsored by ASTM International.

M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship

The purpose of the M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship is to enable women to return to careers in physics research after having their careers interrupted. Applicants must have completed their PhD and offer proof of institutional affiliation during the tenure of the grant. This one-year award of $45,000 is sponsored by the American Physical Society.

Priscilla Carney Jones Scholarship

Awarded to a “rising junior or senior female undergraduate student” studying full-time, majoring in chemistry or a chemistry-related science, and who has completed research or plans to conduct research during her undergraduate years. Applicant must also demonstrate financial need. Minimum award amount of $1,500. Sponsored by the American Chemistry Society.

Science Ambassador Scholarship

Funded by Cards Against Humanity, the Science Ambassador Scholarship is a $15,000 award to provide full tuition coverage for up to four years of study. Candidate must be a woman seeking an undergraduate degree in science, engineering or mathematics. Applicant must submit a video of herself explaining a topic in science she is passionate about.

Buildium Women in Technology Scholarship

This $2,500 scholarship is awarded once each semester to a female student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in product design, interaction design, UX design or computer science. Applicant must submit a 1,000-word or fewer essay answering the question: Which female leader at a technology company inspires you, and why?

Delphix Technology Scholarship for Women

Candidate must identify as a woman and be enrolled full-time in pursuit of a technical degree in a subject such as computer science, mathematics, information technology, electrical engineering, etc. This is a one-time, non-renewable award of $5,000 to be used toward tuition.

Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship: USA

This $10,000 award is open to female undergraduate and graduate students majoring in computer science, computer engineering or another closely related technical field. Must also demonstrate a passion for increasing the involvement of women in computer science.

OpenStack Scholarship Program

Sponsored by Hewlett Packard, the OpenStack Scholarship Program offers four awards of $10,000 annually to female students pursuing an information systems or computer science (or equivalent) major course of study and who are capable of developing a project using OpenStack technology and/or Cloud Foundry.

Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women

This $5,000 award is available to all women who make a “meaningful contribution to Open Source.” Award can be used to fund a recipient’s education and professional development goals, including coding boot camps, online programming courses, and more. Sponsored by Toptal, a network of freelance software developers and designers.

Alpha Omega Epsilon (AOE) Foundation: Engineering and Technical Science Achievement Scholarship

This award, made in varying amounts, is offered to female students enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program majoring in engineering or technical science. Applicants must exemplify high standards in character, conduct, integrity, academic achievement and scholastic aptitude, community involvement and extracurricular activities.

American Association of University Women: Selected Professions Fellowship (Engineering)

Program sponsored by the AAUW offering fellowships in amounts of $5,000 to $18,000 to women pursuing master’s degree (MS or ME) programs in engineering. Awards based on academic excellence (40 percent), professional promise and personal attributes (50 percent), and financial need (10 percent).

Lucile B. Kaufman Women’s Scholarship

Sponsored by the SME Education Foundation, the Lucile B. Kaufman Women’s scholarship offers awards of $1,000 to $5,000 to female undergraduate students enrolled in a degree program in manufacturing, engineering, technology, or closely related field in the United States or Canada. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required.

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program

Three-year graduate fellowships in varying amounts are awarded to candidates who have “demonstrated the ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science and engineering.” Major areas of study include civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering, among others. Not limited by gender, women are especially encouraged to apply.

Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Scholarships

The SWE sponsors dozens of scholarships for both graduate and undergraduate women in engineering, engineering technology and computer science. Awards range from $1,000 to $14,500, depending on the specific scholarship. Eligibility requirements vary by the specific scholarship. Check the SWE website for details.

Advancing Women in STEM Scholarship

The $6,000 Advancing Women in STEM Scholarship is available to women who are 18 years of age and older and pursuing a degree program related to math or other STEM subject. Application requires a short (maximum 500 words) written response to a given scholarship topic. Funded by Zenefits.

Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman

Technically not a scholarship, the Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize is awarded annually to an undergraduate woman for “excellence in mathematics.” Prize amounts range from $250 to $1,000. Sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics (AME).

American Association of University Women: Selected Professions Fellowship (Mathematics/Statistics)

Program sponsored by the AAUW offering fellowships in amounts of $5,000 to $18,000 to women pursuing master’s degree (MS) programs in mathematics or statistics. Awards based on academic excellence (40 percent), professional promise and personal attributes (50 percent), and financial need (10 percent).

BHW Scholarship

Eligibility for this $3,000 award is open to women pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree in mathematics or other STEM-related major. Application requires submission of a 500- to 800-word essay on one of two given topics. Funded by the BHW Group, a custom web and mobile app development company.

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

This $2,000 scholarship is open to women who are admitted to full-time study in a graduate degree (MS or PhD) program in statistics. Those entering the early stages of their program are especially encouraged to apply. Sponsored by the ASA Committee on Women in Statistics and the Caucus for Women in Statistics.

Solar is a really fast growing industry, and with every fast growing industry, there are a lot of opportunities for people, regardless of gender.

Deborah Knuckey

Solar Industry Salaries

Employment percentage is not the only factor in which there is a gender gap in the solar industry. When it comes to many jobs, a discrepancy also exists between men and women in terms of salary. Here are a few examples of the pay gap by solar and solar-inclusive industries:

[Source: Payscale.com.]

Both historically and presently, the gender pay gap is an unfortunate and unfair reality. And how fast, or even whether, that gap is closing remains debatable. So, in the meantime, what can individual women do to take on the issue for themselves? Here are a few possibilities:

Have more confidence in your (monetary) worth: While men tend to view a first salary offer as the starting point in a negotiation, some women see it as a “take it or leave it” sort of thing. Don’t do it. The reality is that by the time you are talking salary with an employer, it’s likely that they want you for the job. And that means leverage.

Educate yourself about what men are making for your job title: There is a lot of great salary info available online, especially in blogs. Or ask male colleagues with the same job description that you trust what they are making (just maybe not ones working at the same company).

Be a better boaster: When bucking for a salary hike, don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments. If that makes you uncomfortable, try doing it in writing in a memo or email to your manager. Couch it in terms of your team’s recent successes. Just make sure to highlight your contributions, too.

Expert Advice From the Field

Ericka Symmonds Director of Workforce Development GRID Alternatives
What challenges have you faced as a woman in the mail-dominated solar industry?

When I was starting out, I was in construction in a job teaching others. And there were, particularly in dealing with older men or folks with experience, those that thought a young woman had no business in teaching them. Then there are the challenges of just walking into conferences and spaces where you just know and can see that you are in the minority. That causes frustration, but also motivation to see that we can recruit more women and people of color into the field. I’d also say that you’ve got to work a little harder to earn your keep, particularly on a construction site. On the other hand, there are gentlemen who are excited to see you out there working alongside them.

Are you seeing any positive movement toward getting more women into the solar field?

A lot has to do with recruitment and the intention of the business – what [women] experience once they get there and if the culture of a company is set up in a way where they know they can advance. There are companies that are outright expressing an interest in women, but I do think it’s a culture change, like how job descriptions are written and who actually is going out and representing companies in the recruitment process. It matters. There are plenty of women who are interested in solar, we just have to do a better job of getting them involved.

Are you seeing any changes in regard to education?

For colleges, it’s still pretty much male-dominated on the engineering side as well as the business side, but the number of women is increasing. There’s starting to be a real focus on STEM for young women. There’s a point in the 12- to 13-year age range where folks kind of make a decision – are they going to focus on one type of coursework or another. And that’s where they see a drop-off on in girls’ interest in STEM fields. So I think looking at the younger generation is super important as we move forward.

Do you have any advice for young women considering a career the solar energy field?

Always know that you are an asset. If you go into a space and find that you are one of very few [women] or the only one, recognize that you are a gift to that space. And if you really want it, stick with the struggles of that and be yourself as much as possible, because that is a value to the company. You are wanted in the solar industry, so please join us.

Trends in Gender Diversity Outreach

The news is not all bad when it comes to gender diversity in the solar profession. As mentioned earlier, there are, in fact, a significant number of solar businesses and organizations working hard to bridge the gender gap. Below are a few tactics being used to bring more women in to STEM jobs generally, and solar jobs in particular:

Getting the message out

Companies are making greater efforts to put out the word that they want more women in their workforces. And that includes both in the office and on the work site.

Getting girls involved early

A recent study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that in a national assessment of eighth-grade level technology and engineering skills, girls on average outperformed boys. Despite these findings, it is believed that girls may be internalizing messaging from the culture that they do not have what it takes to succeed in STEM professions. The answer, therefore, is to fight these societal messages, stopping their influence before it starts.

Being flexible

Companies are learning that they can attract more women into their workforces by making working conditions more flexible through such things as flex-time work hours and generous maternity (and paternity) leave benefits.

Paying for training and more

In 2014, SunEdision, through its grantmaking foundation, awarded $1.2 million to GRID Alternatives to provide training, mentorships, fellowships and more to encourage women to join the solar energy industry.

10 Tips to Landing Your Dream Job in Solar

It’s difficult enough finding the perfect solar job, but then you have to land it. Here are several tips to help women in getting hired in the solar industry:

01
Know the Language

Don’t know what an inverter is? How about photovoltaics or net metering? You don’t have to know everything about how solar systems work to land an entry-level job. But the more you know, the better your chances.

 
02
Location Matters

Solar jobs can be found in all corners of the U.S., but your best chances of landing one are in those regions with lots of solar energy, like the southwest. In other words, follow the sun.

 
03
Education

Once you have an idea of what area of the solar industry you are interested in, find the right degree, certificate or training program that matches it.

 
04
College Solar Projects

Many college renewable energy degree programs encourage students to develop their own independent projects, particularly during their junior and senior years. A college solar project makes for an excellent addition to a job seeker’s resume.

 
05
Internships

Large, established companies and start-ups alike all offer internships, many of them paid. Find one and get some real world experience in solar and another great addition to your resume.

 
06
Volunteer

There are loads of solar-related nonprofits out there with need of good volunteers. You won’t make any money, but you’ll be paid back with real marketable experience and connections to solar energy professionals.

 
07
Professional Associations

Every profession and industry today has one or more professional association promoting it, and solar energy is no exception. Become a member to access a wealth of helpful inside information and networking opportunities. See the Resources list below for a few examples.

 
08
Hit the Trade Shows

Speaking of networking, attending solar, construction and green industry trade shows is a great way to get to know people in the business and allow them to know you.

 
09
Find a Mentor

There are lots of women working in solar today who are committed to bringing more women into the industry. Seek these women out and ask for their help.

 
10
Act Like a Professional

Some people still think of the solar industry as a business outlier full of tree-hugging hippies. Don’t perpetuate the stereotype.

The closer you are to speaking to either the customer or the installer, the more you need to be familiar with the language of solar. [One thing] that I did was to get my LEED-AP. It’s a relatively short course that you can do online. And that just gives you the language that the industry speaks. So even if you are joining a solar company in the area of logistics or legal or engineering, just having that is a good way to insure that you really understand how solar fits into the bigger world.

Deborah Knuckey

Resources

  • C3Enet: C3Enet is a networking organization for women in, or interested in, clean energy. A project of the Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) initiative, which is dedicated to advancing women’s leadership in clean energy around the world.
  • GRID Alternatives: Women in Solar Initiative: In partnership with SunPower, GRID Alternatives sponsors this program whose mission is to, “bring more women into the solar industry and support them in their professional advancement.”
  • Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA): A leading professional association in the solar energy field. Offers abundant information, research data and other resources to its members and other site visitors.
  • Women in Cleantech and Sustainability (WCS): WCS is a nonprofit organization of students and professionals, both women and men, working to build the green economy. Members meet once a month to network and learn the latest developments in the green movement.
  • Women in Solar Energy (WISE): WISE is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to, “advance women in all aspects of the solar energy industry.”
  • Women in Solar Energy Award: Sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society, this award is made to encourage women to become more technically involved in the solar field.