In order to meet the energy challenges of the future, ideas and talent must come from all members of society. So when it comes to cleantech startups, it is regrettable that women remain a minority. The gender gap is particularly amplified for two reasons: 1) Women are less likely to go into STEM fields and 2) overall women are less represented among entrepreneurs.
The good news is that in the last few years awareness has increased significantly. With the recognition of the problem, came an increase in programs and funding to support efforts to close the gap.
One prominent example is C3E, an initiative launched by the 25-government Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010 to provide support and recognition to young women leaders in the field. C3E joins a myriad of organizations working in tandem to support women in STEM, energy, and startups including Women’s Energy Network, Women of Wind Energy, Science with Sophie, Ms.Tech, and the Society of Women Engineers.
Since 2012, Clean Energy Trust has been proud to partner with ComEd, in offering a $25,000 Female Founder investment award. That award is part of what makes up our total $1M annual investment fund and is an important commitment to including and supporting women-led cleantech companies. Now part of our portfolio, recipients Vicki Gonzalez (CEO, Nexmatix, St.Louis, MO) and Lisa Laughner (CEO, GoElectric, Anderson, IN) continue to drive their companies’ success.
This year, we have two forward-looking, cutting-edge women who are leading their cleantech startups into the future.
Susan Sprentall and Samantha Lindgren are on the front lines in the efforts to close the gender gap in the cleantech entrepreneur community.
Support them in-person at the final Clean Energy Trust Challenge event on May 9th!
Susan Sprentall – CEO, Surclean Inc, Wixom, MI
Surclean uses patented laser technology to maintain and clean large surfaces with no chemicals or hazardous waste. Naval destroyers, 747s, and bridges all have one thing in common – these surfaces must be cleaned and maintained. Surclean’s unique combination of laser and sensor technology enables this process to be completed faster, cheaper, and with no environmental impact. Recently, Susan has been competing in Department of Defense innovation programs and won Michigan’s Automation Alley award.
Samantha Lindgren – Co-Founder, Sun Buckets, Champaign, IL
Sun Buckets is a unique solution to the issue of global energy access. It uses parabolic solar technology to create a novel cookstove that can store solar energy for up to 6 hours. The cookstove can be used easily inside or outside and affords the ability for people to cook in their traditional styles. More than 3 billion people around the world use solid fuels to cook their food – not only does this practice create hazardous smoke, but people can often spend valuable time collecting and buying fuel. Samantha is passionate about the mission of energy access and providing a personal fuel solution for people who really need it. She cooks for her own family using a Sun Bucket, and blogs about the recipes and experiences.