Women claim their place in the sun

Woman now represent a rapidly growing sector in what has traditionally been a male dominated industry, solar energy. And nowhere is this trend more apparent than at Canadian Solar where women now represent around 35% of the workforce, globally. In addition, women occupy 25% of all positions at manager level and above.

How does this compare with the world’s more progressive large tech companies? Ebay leads the field with 42% of it’s global 33 000 strong global workforce being female and 28% of those in management roles. While Facebook, where the high-profile Sheryl Sandberg vocally champions women’s rights and opportunities, comes in at 31% total female employees and 23% of management roles filled by women. Apple’s workforce is 30% female and 28% of managers are female.

The above statistics represent leaders in the field of tech-industry female employment and it is clear that Canadian Solar ranks among them. It is difficult to come by accurate global figures in the tech and tech manufacturing sectors because companies with low diversity scores tend not to advertise the fact and prefer to talk more about what they are going to do for women rather than what they have already done. But typically women in the sector seem to appear in the 20% to 25% range with management figures at 15% to 20%. “Traditionally women have steered away from what is often seen as a male-dominated environment,” said Hanbing Zhang of Canadian Solar.

 

“I believe reasons for this include the perceptions that it’s hard to make headway in a male-dominated world and that work in this sector is just better suited to men. But this simply is not true at companies like Canadian Solar,” she said.

 

There is also historical gender bias that excludes women from core managerial roles in manufacturing around the world but, according to Zhang this is changing fast.

“While women have not yet achieved parity with men, the increasing numbers of women in all roles at companies like Canadian Solar show that the trend is headed that way,” she said. “Women are picking up on the fact that they can do just as well as men and that there is a real future for them in tech related fields. We welcome women with open arms. The fact is that there is a global skills shortage and this means that anyone with skills, regardless of gender, has great opportunities here,” said Zhang.