BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Posts Tagged ‘Working Women in the Green Economy’

Women Can and Should Go for the Green (Jobs)

Posted by deborahfrett on May 31, 2011

Throughout the last year, Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation has been connecting women to the emerging green economy by providing access to green job training and resources.  Our goal is to help women of all ages better understand and identify the sustainable jobs of the future, and to align their skills with those particular jobs.  After nearly a century focused on improving women’s access to opportunities in non-traditional occupations, BPW Foundation wants to ensure that women are ready to participate in and contribute to the growing green economy.

Historically, women have been under-represented in the dominant (and high-paying) green sector job fields.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), women only represent 1.7 percent of electricians, 5.5 percent of first-line supervisors/managers of mechanics, installers, and repairers, 5.9 percent of mechanical engineers, and 9 percent of computer and engineering fields.  Instead, women most often choose the following five (significantly lower-paying) occupations: secretaries and administrative assistants, registered nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers, and nursing, psychiatric and home health aides.  Clearly, women are getting left behind at this intersection.

An important first step in securing green jobs for women has been to raise their awareness that the higher-paying jobs offered by the green economy are within reach of women of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels.  The green sector encompasses a wide variety of employment fields and industries, and gateway opportunities exist for women with a broad range of education, exposure, and experience.

There are an increasing number of training opportunities for those interested in pursuing green careers.  Through a grant from Walmart Foundation, BPW Foundation recently supported four community-based pilot programs to determine demand and expand specific training and services for women aligned with local green jobs.  BPW Foundation is also partnering with AARP Foundation to expand access and opportunities for mature women to find training, jobs and advance their careers in the green economy.

Educating women about the range of green jobs and training available for green occupations brings us one step closer to ensuring that women have the chance to compete for and succeed in the green economy.  Training and certification can be found at many levels, from high school to and through graduate school. Green training can also be acquired on-the-job—unions and nonprofit organizations, as well as industry associations often sponsor apprenticeships and other programs.  Finally, several training programs are currently funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and are in development by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.

Through our work and research, BPW Foundation understands that despite the many avenues for education and training, if there are no jobs, these skills offer no benefit. Fortunately, however, that looks like it is about to change for the better! While overall the economy vacillates between recovery and recession, there are major indications that the green economy is growing.

According to a new MoneyTree Report released by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), first quarter 2011 investments in the Clean Technology sector jumped 26% above the fourth quarter of 2010.  The Clean Technology sector, as defined by PWC, crosses traditional industries and comprises alternative energy, pollution, recycling, power supplies, and conservation.  The impressive $1.0 billion invested in Clean Technology places that sector second only to the Software Industry in terms of dollar investment. This month’s employment figures offer further support, even as the nation’s unemployment level rose slightly to 9 percent, there were gains in corresponding Clean Technology industry sectors.

So with the green economy solidly “in the black,” women of all ages need to be poised and ready to “go for it” and capitalize on the opportunities presented by this growing sector.  BPW Foundation can show you the way.  Visit www.bpwfoundation.org/GreenForWomen to learn about successfully navigating a green career pathway.  Go for it!


Posted in Career Advancement, green, Non Traditional Jobs, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From Jail to Class Leader

Posted by gansie on August 5, 2010

Business and Professional Women Foundation’s “Moving from Red to Green: Working Women in the Green Economy” initiative connects women to the emerging green economy by providing green job training. With generous support from the Walmart FoundationBPW Foundation‘s four pilot programs have been awarded $60,000 grants to expand their capacity to train women for green jobs.Women in NonTraditional Employment Roles is one of the grantees.

Here is how BPW Foundation is supporting women’s involvment in sustainability work.

Karen (not her real name) came to Women in NonTraditional Employment Roles (WINTER) in 2006 seeking help after going from job to job hoping to find a meaningful career. She graduated from WINTER and soon after gained employment with Shell Refinery making $19.45/hour.

Unfortunately, Karen suffered from alcoholism and allowed it to impact her performance at work. One day during her lunch break Karen decided to have a beer, thinking that no one would be the wiser. She was wrong.

Karen’s supervisor caught her in the act and she was fired from the refinery, causing a downward spiral into depression and more alcohol. Before she knew it, she was convicted of driving under the influence and was sentenced to jail.

As a condition of her release from jail, Karen was put on probation, ordered to a rehabilitation center, and attended mandatory Alcohol Anonymous meetings weekly. She knew that her conviction along with the court restrictions would make it very difficult to find employment. Moreover, her certifications had expired and she didn’t have money to renew them.

Although Karen remembered WINTER’s unconditional commitment to help women interested in blue collar careers, she was ashamed of her actions and feared that she wouldn’t receive a second chance. Despite her fear, Karen called WINTER and made an appointment to meet with a coordinator.

Karen shared her experience with WINTER and was welcomed back with open arms. She began the WINTERGreen Training Program, a project funded in part by BPW Foundation and Walmart Foundation, on January 11, 2010, almost exactly three years after her previous training.

Karen excelled in training, providing guidance and help to those in need. She earned certifications in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), Refinery Safety Overview (RSO), CPR/First Aid, Asbestos Worker, Introduction to Green Construction and Lead Worker.

The class voted her as Class Speaker, and this March, Karen stood in front of family members and friends and courageously shared her story with dignity and confidence.

The following week after graduation, Karen visited all of the refineries in the greater Los Angeles area. Every day, she called and visited the refineries, never losing hope and never giving up. And a month later, her perseverance paid off.

Karen was offered a job as a Fire Watch in Los Angeles, which she began early in June at a pay rate of $21 per hour. She has since moved into a sober living home and continues to attend her Alcoholic Anonymous meetings on a regular basis. Karen has pledged to help future WINTER women and has offered to buy work boots for a participant in need.

Karen is proof that women can overcome any obstacle with a little help from caring individuals and WINTER. With initiative, perseverance, hard work, and dedication, anyone can be a success!

The WINTERGreen Program is a social enterprise component of Women In Non Traditional Employment Roles, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a pipeline of diverse, well-qualified women for career opportunities in the environmental remediation and green retrofit fields. WINTERGreen provides certified training and employment to women to green their communities as they learn to perform valuable work and improve their work skills.

Working Women in the Green Economy bpwfoundation.org/greenforwomen

Posted in green, Non Traditional Jobs | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

From Nail Polish to Residential Weatherization

Posted by gansie on July 21, 2010

Business and Professional Women Foundation’s “Moving from Red to Green: Working Women in the Green Economy” initiative connects women to the emerging green economy by providing green job training. With generous support from the Walmart Foundation, BPW Foundation‘s four pilot programs have been awarded $60,000 grants to expand their capacity to train women for green jobs.

Vermont Works for women is one of the pilot sites.

Here is how BPW Foundation is supporting women’s involvment in sustainability work.

Vermont Works for Women helps women and girls explore and pursue their full potential through education and training programs that lead to financial independence. Here is just one story about a woman who made the change to a non traditional job.

Although HD (her initials) had graduated with high honors from a high school Cosmetology program at the local Technical Education Center in 2005, the jobs she had found since then were in housekeeping, food service and working at the post office processing center during the holiday rush.  Her average rate of pay was under $10/hour.

She had plenty of informal experience doing standard farm and “country” chores – throwing bales, clearing brush, cutting firewood, and the like. When she started to help an acquaintance on a tree project – working with chainsaws – she realized she was skilled, tough and a quick study in the hands-on learning required for new, tough tasks.

A friend of hers applying for Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) Law Enforcement training program learned about the FRESH Energy crew and suggested HD apply.

FRESH ENERGY is on the job program that seeks to train and employ women in the fields of construction, efficiency and renewable energy.

Since she was currently working at a bagel store, she figured she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  She called to investigate and soon submitted an application for the crew.

She wrote in her cover letter,

One thing my resume doesn’t show is the work I have done with family and friends – handling hay bales, fire wood, home clean outs, clearing brush, chain saw and tree work.  I think these demonstrate that I am a hard-working woman who is not afraid to try new things and be hands-on in my work.  I am excited at the idea of having the opportunity to get valuable training in a career field that I will enjoy and take pride in doing.”

HD was hired for the crew and started to wear a tool belt to work for the first time in her life.  During her first 2 months on the job, HD has received on-the-job training in residential weatherization in apartment style housing units as well as mobile homes.  She received EPA Lead Renovator Training and Certification, training in dense-pack cellulose installation and a thorough introduction to blower door testing.  In her third month on the job, she will receive introductory building science training, complete national certifications in both construction safety and hand tool use, and continue on-the-job training in residential weatherization.

Recently asked to reflect on her first two months with the FRESH Energy crew, she had this to say…

It’s been great for me.  I love doing the manual work rather than being in an office.  I love the training and the work experience.  We talk about everything, learn as we go, and then do it.  I benefit from this a lot more than if I was just thrown into a job.  I’ve also learned that doing this kind of work is saving more than you might think.  I used to think about energy efficiency as saving money on your bills, but I realize you’re saving a lot more than that now.  It helps to save the environment.  I’m not sure where I’m going with it yet.  But I like what I’m doing and I want to keep doing it.

Working Women in the Green Economy www.bpwfoundation.org/greenforwomen

Posted in Environment, Financial Security, green, Non Traditional Jobs, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »