Nextracker and Solar Energy International announce global scholarship to bring more women into solar
Nexttracker and Solar Energy International (SEI) have announced their partnership to launch Half the Sun, a global scholarship program to support more women in solar work.
Women are still severely underrepresented in the solar industry, despite the overwhelming consensus that a diverse workplace makes sense for business. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), women account for only 28% of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) jobs in the global solar industry. This disproportionate gender gap stems largely from insufficient training and networking opportunities. The scholarship name “Half the Sun” is ambitious and derived from the famous book by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half of Heaven, where stories of challenges are turned into opportunities. Since women make up half of the world’s population, Half the Sun proposes increasing female and non-binary participation to 50%, or half of the solar workforce.
Half the Sun is a needs-based scholarship program that aims to address the lack of gender diversity by increasing access to the industry and nurturing the next generation of female and non-binary solar professionals. It will award financial aid for vocational training in the form of tuition fees for applicants pursuing STEM education. With the global renewable workforce set to grow by nearly 30 million people by 2030, Half the Sun can help shape this workforce with a more diverse pool of candidates.
The program offers 10 students a full scholarship for a six-week SEI solar education for three years each year. To best serve the global communities and markets that Nextracker serves, the following regions will each receive two grants: Europe, United States, MEIAT region (Middle East Africa, India and Turkey); Australia and Asia-Pacific; and Latin America. Open to women and non-binary individuals, applicants must have a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields or a related area of concentration.
“Half the Sun scholarship will help facilitate winners’ professional development and potential access to the solar workforce,” said Kristan Kirsh, Nextracker’s VP of Global Marketing. “SEI has a 30-year track record of educating thousands of individuals in the global solar workforce and they have kept pace with online and in-person curriculum best practices. Nextracker is very proud to partner with them and further drive our NX Women’s Network with this action-oriented program for a more diverse workforce.”
From the date the awards are announced, recipients of a Half the Sun Scholarship will have access to regional members of the Nextracker Women’s Network to ensure continuity of the networking and personal tutoring career path. This aligns with Nexttracker Women’s Network’s mission to unite, promote and inspire diversity in the workplace through social networking, educational opportunities and professional development. Recipients gain access to Nextracker’s established professional network to bridge solar jobs and provide a platform to discuss shared workplace experiences, from the challenges of working motherhood to gender inequality in the workplace.
“With a 30-year history of providing solar educational courses and training, award winners can expect to learn the basics of photovoltaics and lay a strong foundation for a career in photovoltaics,” said Elizabeth Sanderson. , executive director of SEI. “We look forward to supporting Nextracker’s diversity, equality and inclusion goals by providing advanced, world-class solar educational training to the next generation of solar workers. These business partnerships, such as the Nexttracker Half the Sun Scholarship, help the industry at large be as diverse, innovative and prosperous as possible.”
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