I got into the construction game later in life, and I didn’t feel like I belonged.
Cora Saxton began her journey in the construction industry by chance and never looked back. Throughout her career, sustainability and renewable resources have always been at the core of her values and at the forefront of her work in sustainable agriculture, residential construction, electrician work, and teaching sustainable construction. Cora made her way to GRID to launch the path for the North Coast office, which she has led with passion and grit since its opening in 2014.
Just recently, she attended the InterSolar Conference with a group of other GRID Alternatives staff members, an event where participants can experience the solar industry’s best practices for the design, installation, and maintenance of code-compliant PV, storage systems, EV charging infrastructure, and more. For Cora, this time was a little different, she was part of the first ever all-women/nonbinary crew at the Solar Games competition. The challenge of this competition was to safely install a working 10-module off-grid system in 90 minutes! Though they didn’t win the competition, the team proved to be an incredible presence of skills and strength, and they were definitely a crowd favorite! Check out this quick reel from the Solar Games!
Being a woman in the solar construction industry
According to the U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study, women represented only 26% of the solar workforce in 2019. Other data highlights the gender disparities that exist only 28% of women in the solar industry hold manager, director, or president-level positions, and the differences are even more stark for women of color.
Cora says, “The main challenge I have experienced being a woman in this field is the common perception that if a woman is in construction - they are in more administrative roles, and don’t have the hard skills to be successful on the job site. Also, most equipment is not designed for all bodies, including and especially safety equipment. This perpetuates the stereotype that women don’t want to do it, won't be good at it, won't enjoy it, can’t do it. I disagree!”
“I didn’t feel like I belonged until GRID.” Throughout her time at GRID, Cora has received opportunities for professional development and gained certifications and licenses that have been integral to the growth and success of her career.
GRID Alternatives' equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy aims to integrate the unique perspectives and realities of women in the solar industry, especially women of color.
Advice to women interested in a career in construction
“There is a lot of room and space for women in construction, and if you feel like you are getting blocked by one avenue, go down a different path. There are people out there who will support you and will give you the training you need, and you just need to keep knocking on the door until you find the one that opens. Don’t give up!”
GRID is proud of Cora’s work and wants to acknowledge how she models more inclusion in construction. We are grateful for the strength of Cora and the many other women in our GRID community as they lead the way and champion change on the job site and beyond.
Hear directly from Cora in this instagram post!