Why Energy Needs Women to Help Rebuild Our Infrastructure

Written by:

Katie Mehnert

In 2017, 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, and charge our devices. Energy fuels our existence every single day, yet we rarely give it a second thought — save to remember plugging in our phones before we go to bed at night. 

Those hurricanes devastated families, cities, and islands. I myself was a victim of massive flooding on Houston’s west side. My house and cars were submerged when 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 country has 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. 

Better than before

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 championed 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.

Maximizing profits through the power of inclusion

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, net revenue increased by 15 percent. 

Another study from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests closing the gender gap could grow the economy by an extra $12 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. These 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 power

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, well-paying, 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. 

This piece was originally published in Mediaplanet's guide in USA Today on construction and trades. Katie Mehnert is the Founder, Pink Petro and Experience Energy.

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