Solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., but there is still a ways to go before it becomes an equitable industry. According to the 2017 National Solar Jobs Census, women account for only 27% of the industry, and the number is even lower when you consider women in the solar the installation sector. It’s GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic’s mission to make sure the solar industry becomes more inclusive, which is where the “We Build” Women in Solar program comes in.
On January 24 and 25, GRID Mid-Atlantic hosted a “We Build” team building event and solar install with women from the YouthBuild Public Charter School and from the Solar Works DC Spring 2019 candidate pool. On the first day, the group learned about the importance of communication and leveraging their team member’s strengths through creative team building exercises like building marshmallow and spaghetti towers. They also heard from members of each department on how they contribute to the overall vision and mission of GRID.
The group spent the second day on site at a home in Northeast DC getting hands-on experience with solar. When it came time to split into groups to tackle the ground and roof work, Meosha jumped at the chance to get on the roof.
“I’m a daredevil,” she explained as she waltzed up the three-story ladder. Meosha was part of the team from YouthBuild, an alternative high school that prepares students for vocational work through workforce development programs and volunteer opportunities, which is how she found out about We Build. “It’s a second chance for me,” she says of YouthBuild, “I like learning different skills, but we haven’t had a chance to learn something like solar before.”
Jessica, who also joined the roof team, learned about We Build after applying for the Solar Works DC program. She became interested in renewable energy after witnessing the effects that fossil fuel extraction can have on the environment.
“I've seen first hand the irreversible damage that strip top mining has on the environment. When I first went to school, my campus overlooked a beautiful mountain forest. Now it is just a grassy field,” she said, adding that she’s also “excited about the alternative renewables provide for the future economy.”
We hope initiatives like We Build can make a difference for women like Meosha and Jessica, who are looking to enter the industry. By providing the opportunity to gain hands-on installation experience in a safe and supportive space, GRID’s Women in Solar Program is working to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive solar industry.
See more pictures from We Build here.