|Green Jobs Being Created, but what About the Women?|
|Written by Michelle Reeves, Four Green Steps|
|Friday, 28 September 2012 00:25|
Written by Michelle Reeves, Four Green Steps
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Creating green collar jobs has been in the news a lot lately, but one element is always missing – green jobs for women? The U.S Department of Labor took a look at women’s role in the green economy recently.
President Obama’s stimulus package allocated $ 4.2 billion for green jobs. However, a lot of this money is going towards male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing. This leads many to believe that women will not have access to the new green jobs being created.
Hilda Solis, the Labor Secretary, wants women to be one of the groups targeted by the stimulus dollars. But how can they get a portion of that money if it is being aimed mainly at male-dominated industries like construction, energy and HVAC? According to 2007 data, 0.9% of employed roofers and 1.1% of heating, ventilation and air conditioning workers were women. These are two areas that are being buoyed by the green dollars, so aimed generally at men. Even more “white collar” job such as engineering, law and consulting are all male-dominated and all receiving a large part of the green investments.
Taking a look at the 20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women, the top jobs are teachers, nurses and childcare workers. These are stereotypically “female” jobs, but they need just as much green encouragement because they form the next generation, the future politicians and engineers. Investing in human capital is just as important for a green future.
There have been attempts at incentives to draw women into profession such as engineering but none of them have had significant success. So the solution really is to support women in the roles they already fill, representing 46% of the American workforce. They may not hold positions that can easily be turned green but they do support families just as much as men do and definitely deserve the same amount of investment from the government.
My big fear is that this will do nothing to shrink the wage gap between men and women, if anything it will widen it even more. If male-dominated jobs are being encouraged with government dollars, will their salaries rise while women’s pay remains stagnant? In 2009 in the US, male full time year round workers earned 19% more than women. Will this disparity be increased by the government’s goodwill to green our future? It’s a bittersweet situation; a more eco-friendly job market but at what cost?
Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
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