Reflecting on Women’s History Month: Why women are crucial in CEE’s workplace
March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the unique contributions of women — in Minnesota, our country, and our society. The idea to devote an entire month to highlighting the achievements of women began in 1981, when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 (then it was referred to as Women’s History Week). By 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s Project, Women’s History Month made its official debut. Since then, it has inspired an array of community events, educational programs, and other initiatives that advance gender equality and recognize the groundbreaking efforts of women throughout history and today.
However, though the U.S. has made great strides towards closing the gender gap, we have a long way to go. Women are still vastly underrepresented in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math. According to Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce) women hold less than 25% of all STEM jobs and have fewer degrees in engineering than their male counterparts. Moreover, the growth of women in tech and related fields has steadily declined since 1990 (when it increased by 34%).
Because of these challenges, CEE believes it’s important to recognize the tremendous value women bring to the workplace, particularly the energy field. In addition to providing cost-effective energy efficiency solutions to Minnesota homeowners, businesses, and culturally diverse communities, we foster a work environment in which women have the support and resources to thrive. So this year, in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting three CEE employees whose professional expertise and integrity help make our work possible.
Below, CEE staff members Nicole Kessler, Emma Appleman, and Sondra Breneman share their thoughts on energy efficiency, bridging the gender gap, and what Women’s History Month means to them. Here’s what they had to say:
“There’s a growing network of women in the Twin Cities energy field, and it’s been really nice to meet other women in the field and hear about their experiences. For me, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to learn about women who have made contributions to our society, who have been overshadowed, and to appreciate the women that have come before and made the path easier to follow. It’s also a reminder that there’s still more work to do.”
— Nicole Kessler, Program Manager for Energy Intelligence. Bachelors in Applied Physics (College of Saint Benedict). Masters in Science, Technology & Environmental Policy (University of Minnesota).
“I’d like to see more women involved in engineering and data-based roles. We need to keep encouraging young women to study STEM because when there are more role models in the workforce, the growth will multiply. Women’s History Month is a great time to remember the many women who have worked their entire lives to get us where we are now. We still have a long way to go before we achieve complete equality. But when we come together as women and support each other, we have the power to change the world.”
— Emma Appleman, Digital Communications Specialist. Bachelors in Psychology (College of Wooster in Ohio). Masters of Business Administration candidate (University of St. Thomas)
“Growing up, all I knew about energy efficiency was my parents yelling at me to either turn off the lights or make sure the doors and windows were closed so the furnace or AC wouldn’t have to work harder. We need to make sure we’re effectively explaining the how and why of energy efficiency and the important role it has in our lives. I believe there’s a gender gap in almost all science-related fields, but if we continue to educate and nurture people — young and old — who are interested in STEM, this gap will lessen. As a woman, Women's History Month gives me an opportunity to uplift and honor the women who have impacted my life through their gifts and talents.”
— Sondra Breneman, Loan Officer. Master’s in Community Ministry Leadership (Bethel University).
We salute all the women at CEE, who help close the gender divide in science, tech, engineering, and math simply by excelling at their jobs. Our country may have a lot of work to do before we achieve gender equality in the workplace and STEM, but we’re excited about the progress made so far (and about doing our part to help things improve).
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