Just in time for the latest wave of fetal fetishism to sweep across the US, the Department of Energy has embarked on a renewed push to recruit more women into the clean energy field. That’s going to be a little tricky considering the complications that arise for working women when lawmakers insert the cold, probing eye of unscientific public oversight into personal decisions on ubiquitous matters of health care (well, ubiquitous for women of birthing years). Nevertheless, let’s take a look and see what’s going on here.
What is the Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Technology Collaboration Program?
The Department of Energy is already proactive when it comes to recruiting women into the clean energy profession.
But, what do they mean by clean energy? Good question!
One key program that is C3E, the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Technology Collaboration Program.
C3E comes under the umbrella of the International Energy Agency, and the key word here is clean. With that in mind don’t confuse IEA with IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency. IRENA is for renewables. IEA is all of the above.
If IEA is pitching a “clean” energy initiative, that’s going to cover a lot of ground including natural gas, nuclear energy, carbon capture, and energy efficiency.
As the picture comes into sharper focus, consider that the Energy Department first launched C3E during the Obama administration under the leadership of nuclear physicist Steven Chu.
The collaborative effort is now multinational in scope. The Energy Department has a leadership position at C3E, where it shepherds a smallish but interesting mix of participants amongst the fields of female recruiting. So far the members include Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, and Sweden. And the US.
Yes, all 10 of these countries have women in them. That’s interesting, right?
They also represent almost one-third of the 31 members of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
That’s even more interesting! NEA concerns itself with issues of uranium supply and waste disposal, to name a few.
In the latest development involving the Energy Department’s support for C3E, a Senior Advisor from the agency’s Office of Nuclear Energy has been tapped for the position of Vice Chair at C3E.
There, fixed it for you. As far as the Energy Department is concerned, nuclear energy is clean energy.
Not All Clean Energy Is All That Clean
Setting aside that little thing about risks and hazards (Fukushima, much?), the nuclear energy field is a fascinating one from a science and technology perspective.
With deep roots in the history of both energy and warfare in the US, the nuclear field is all but guaranteed to maintain a favored position in US energy policy, which translates into job security for those who choose to invest in such a career.
That circles back around to the female recruitment issue. The energy field is one among many sectors competing in the rough-and-tumble race to attract top talent from around the world, which explains the drive for gender diversity as well as diversity in general. If the nuclear industry is going to survive, it’s going to need to attract top female talent.
That’s a tough row to hoe. The burgeoning wind energy and solar energy fields are competing for talent, too, and without the extra baggage of waste disposal and high-impact accidents that burden the nuclear field.
Nevertheless, it’s do or die. Take the US fossil fuel industry, for example. Researchers are beginning to note a collision course between the up-and-coming diversified workforce of tomorrow, and the tsunami of retirements as the existing male-dominated workforce ages out.
In other words, it’s a double whammy for coal, oil and gas: renewables are beating out fossil fuel for a share of the power generation sector, and they’re also nailing down the next generation of innovators, too.
The nuclear energy field could find itself facing a lethal brain drain as well.
If you have any thoughts about that, drop us a note in the comment thread.
Meanwhile, CleanTechnica reached out to IEA for some insights into the Energy Department’s recruitment efforts and they referred us to the Energy Department, so stay tuned for more on that.
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Image (screenshot): US Department of Energy.