Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Solar worker helps other women get started in the industry » Yale Climate Connections

Riley Neugebauer is a solar panel installer in Boulder, Colorado. And she knows what it can feel like to be a woman getting started in the predominantly male career.

She says in the beginning, she faced a steeper learning curve than some of her male colleagues. For example, even though she did lots of labor on her family’s land growing up, nobody ever put power tools in her hands.

Neugebauer: “I think it’s what happens to a lot of women and girls, and so we get socialized in a different way or we don’t even think to ask about it.”

Later, employers pushed her toward office work or sales, instead of supporting her desire to do physical or technical work.

But Neugebauer loves her career and wants to support other women who are getting started.

So she founded Solar for Women, a community of women in the industry who connect online.

Neugebauer: “They put in pictures of the job they’re working on, or something interesting that happened, or something hard that happened. And everybody’s always been, you know, ‘thumbs-up,’ like, “You go girl, that’s awesome,’ or, “Let me ask a follow-up question,” or, “Why did you do it this way?” So I feel like that alone has been really incredible and given us all a space that we feel didn’t exist before.”

Her goal is to create a supportive environment where women in solar can ask questions, learn, and help each other succeed.

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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