Five years ago, Gaby Gomez felt unsatisfied with her career in electrical engineering in the automotive business and decided it was time to make a change.
“I started looking into careers that would make an impact and would lead to fulfillment,” Gomez says, which led her to the solar energy field.
After pursuing a renewable energy master’s degree, today Gomez is a project engineer at Standard Solar, where she designs commercial photovoltaic systems. She provides engineering support to early stage project opportunities and also performs technical due diligence for projects in varying stages of development.
Engineering–and the renewable energy industry as a whole–is still a male-dominated field, but Gomez says she has found the field welcoming to women. “The industry is improving and we’re starting to see more women in the technical fields,” she says.
At Standard Solar, for instance, she points to the fact that significantly more female engineers and project managers have joined in just the last year and a half. Furthermore, the company supports their female staff by encouraging them to join the Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) network, which promotes the education, professional development and advancement of women to achieve a strong diversified workforce and support a robust renewable energy economy.
Gomez points to the work of other female leaders in the renewable energy industry that have inspired her, such as Erika Mackie, a fellow engineer who founded GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit that develops and implements solar projects serving low-income households and communities.
To encourage other women to enter the solar and renewable energy fields, Gomez says that women should have confidence to compete in the field without being intimidated by the technical aspects of some job descriptions, and that job descriptions could be made more inclusive. She refers to the study that women are often reluctant to apply for positions they aren’t 100% qualified for, unlike men who apply when they are qualified for 60% of the requirements.
Her advice for women looking to join the solar industry? “Go for it! It’s a growing industry.” She suggests women in the solar industry seek out role models, mentors and work hard.
In the words of Isabel Allende, who wrote Gomez’s favorite book, The House of the Spirits, “For real change, we need feminine energy in the management of the world.”
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