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Women in Skilled Trades

Harnessing the Power of Skilled Women Workers


Katie Mehnert

Founder, Pink Petro and Experience Energy

Six months ago, a rapid succession of powerful hurricanes battered coastlines from Florida to Texas, the Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico. Collectively, we realized something we’ve always known but never thought too much about: power is everything.

I’m not talking about political prowess or financial strength. I’m talking about energy — the ability to cook our food, light our homes, charge our devices. Energy fuels our existence every single day, and yet we rarely give it a second thought — save to remember to plug in our phones before we go to bed at night.

An important lesson​​​​​​​

Those hurricanes devastated families and cities and islands. I myself was a victim of massive flooding on Houston’s west side. My house and cars were submerged when city officials decided to release the dams near my home, sacrificing my neighborhood to save dozens of others.

It’s taken some time, but I’ve come to see those storms as one of the most powerful opportunities our industry and our country have ever seen. It wasn’t just energy that was disrupted; transportation ground to a halt. Roads collapsed. Our infrastructure — the support system we lean on for survival — was compromised, big time.

A better way to rebuild

Now we have to rebuild, and we have an opportunity to do that in a way that’s going to make all of our systems, structures and networks stronger than ever. We just need more of one very important thing. Diversity.

As the founder of a global online community dedicated to busting the gender gap in energy, I’ve been a champion of diversity for a long time. But I’ve been thinking about it an isolated way, as though energy is the only industry with a diversity problem.

We live in an interconnected world. Construction builds our homes, bridges and, yes, dams. Manufacturing creates the resources we need to survive. Transportation brings them right to our door.

Energy powers all of that, and so does inclusion.

A proven need

A recent study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that, when profitable firms increased the number of female leaders in their organizations from 0 to 30 percent representation, net revenue increased 15 percent. Another study from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that closing the gender gap could grow the economy by an extra $2.1 trillion in gross domestic product over the next decade. Plus, having more women in your ranks is tied to improved problem-solving and greater creativity, which are qualities we’ll need if we’re going to compete in the global economy.

These industries breathe life into everything we do. And there are strong, talented women already making waves in each and every one of them. But we need more.

We need companies to realize they are stronger when their teams are diverse and their culture is inclusive. And we need women — of all backgrounds, ethnicities and ages — to go after the jobs that power our world with everything they’ve got. These are good jobs, well-paying jobs, high-profile jobs that offer the opportunity to make an impact.

They say you can’t be what you can’t see, so take a look. Women are everywhere, and we’ve only just begun. 

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