Catching up with WoWE Executive Director, Kristen Graf

 WoWE ED Kristen Graf (right) testing some of her new skills
with CBI Trainers Mil Niepold (left) and Rachel Milner Gillers (center)


The fall always brings a lot of activity here at WoWE HQ.  September kicked off right away with the WoWE-ELP Negotiations Training in Philadelphia on September 2 and 3.  It was the first time hosting an event like this for WoWE and it was a huge success.  The trainers from the Consensus Building Institute are top-notch and we were all thankful to be selected in partnership with the Environmental Leadership Program to get their expertise brought in for free so we could have such a low-cost/high-quality event.  Hoping for more opportunities like this in the future!

I left Philadelphia and headed straight to DC for a workshop hosted by USAID on Gender and Renewable Energy.  USAID is thinking critically about the metrics they use to measure impacts on gender in all of their projects around the world.  The following week I ended up in Boston for C3E’s Fall Symposium and made it back to New York that weekend for the largest Climate March in History – I only made it a few blocks in many hours, but the power of the roar across the march after the moment of silence and the myriads of people from so many different places all together in this one moment reminded me about the value of being in this work, the value of working hard to bridge barriers in solidarity for the pressing needs of our time, and the value of each voice adding in to make a loud cumulative call.

We know the challenges ahead for renewable energy are many, but the more voices we add to the mix the more confident I become.  As you all well know, I believe the voices of women are a critical piece of that mix.  The reality is we need more women’s voices everywhere and the challenges we see in other sectors are incredibly relevant to the conversations we can hope to have in ours.

The particular focus of my social media feeds in October was the role of the voices of women in tech.  What has become known as #GamerGate reached a heightened level with Anita Sarkeesian of Feminst Frequency (and the amazing videos on the Damsel in Distress tropes) having to  cancel of a talk in Utah because of threat of a mass shooting.  If you haven’t been following Gamer Gate the best place to get a quick catch up with just enough humor to balance the depressing rhetoric might be the Colbert Report.

Alas the challenges for women in tech didn’t end there, but continued when a panel of male allies took a turn for the worse at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing:  Women in Tech Explain Why a Tech Conference for Women Went Awry and How to Make It Better.  As I do with our amazing allies in WoWE, I applaud everyone for coming to the table.  We need you here and we need our allies voices, but we all need to educate ourselves regularly and do all we can to understand our own implicit and unconscious bias.  What makes me happy and optimistic about the conference story in the end is that the men that had their comments challenged stayed at the table, asked for feedback, and listened when they received it.  That is at least one step forward for all women in the workplace.

And if you need a few ideas to go beyond that here’s one small place to start:
5 Things Men Can Do for Gender Equality at Work

Finally, while we can’t expect the end of October to bring immediate change for the climate or for women in tech it does bring Halloween, Day of the Dead, the Great Pumpkin, fall harvests and apple pie.  It also signals that we are just days away from Election Day – a critical day for seizing at least one small slice of the power that we have as individual citizens.  Time to ditch the frustration and stand up to make our voices heard (maybe even help other voices lift up too and volunteer for a Get Out the Vote Campaign!).

I hope strongly that in late November I’ll see you in person at the WoWE Leadership Forum and AWEA’s Fall Symposium in San Diego.  However - should you find yourself back in the office, at home, or anywhere else that week, consider tuning in for one of the 2020 Women on Boards Events – they’ve declared November 20, 2014 – the day for a National Conversation on Board Diversity.  One more step for women’s voices.  Happy Halloween!