Women’s History Month 2021: This is How We #ChooseToChallenge

Juliana Santos

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day 2021, I’ve been reflecting on our team at Nextracker and the incredible women professionals I get to work with every day. We are from Brazil. We are from Spain. We are from Australia. We are from India. We are from Lebanon. We are from China. We are from Indonesia. We are from the United States. And we are united as women in solar.

Although we’ve made progress, it’s clear that there is much to be done to bring women into a more equitable place in the clean energy workforce.

Let’s review a few stats and trends. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewables industry has a global workforce of more than 10 million and, by 2050, this number is expected to triple; of that 10 million, 32% are women, compared to 22% in the energy sector overall. In the United States, a recent Solar Foundation study revealed that women accounted for only 26% of the solar workforce and are paid less than men, averaging 74 cents versus every dollar earned by their male counterparts. And for us in solar, many of these jobs require STEM education to help raise the next generation women professionals in solar. And while women are nearly half of the U.S. workforce, only 27% of them occupy STEM professions, states a January 2021 report by the U.S. census.

In addition, the Pew Research Center has determined that “for women working in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) jobs, the workplace is a different, sometimes more hostile environment than the one their male coworker’s experience. Discrimination and sexual harassment are seen as more frequent, and gender is perceived as more of an impediment than an advantage to career success.” The study goes on to report that many respondents attributed the limited diversity of the STEM workforce to a lack of encouragement.

This is where we #ChooseToChallenge. At Nextracker we are highly focused on ensuring that we are not part of those statistics. We review our compensation equity practices regularly; we do not tolerate inappropriate work environments and we continue to work on programs to ensure that we are developing talent to move the needle for women.

As the next installment in our NX Rising series, I would like you to meet Juliana Santos. Juliana was recently promoted to Senior Operations Manager in our Brazil regional office, where she trains solar installers, men and women, on installation best practices and engineering design through our global PowerworX Academy. Juliana Chose to Challenge as one of Nextracker’s first female field engineers.

“Since I’ve started, I’ve introduced other female staff with me into the field. We represent a wave of change,” explains Juliana. Check out this NX Rising video to learn more of her story:

The global transition to cleaner forms of energy gives us an opportunity to create new jobs and rethink what is at the heart of environmental justice – in effect, how energy is produced and distributed. With greater gender equality and access to STEM-related jobs, we can rattle the system toward progress.

This is how we #ChooseToChallenge.