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Recruitment & Retention of Women in
Green Jobs Training and Employment
Fact Sheet
Opportunities for Women in the Green Economy
The growing commitment to sustainability has increased the demand for green products and services, and created a variety of
new occupations and career paths. The resulting increased demand for workers offers exciting opportunities for women because
they generally offer higher wages and better benefits than jobs where women are now clustered. Green companies need workers
at all skill levels and with a variety of educational and training backgrounds who can design, build, install, retrofit, lead, and much
more. Best of all, they are looking to hire. For example, Alliant Energy reported that the U.S. energy industry will need to replace
50 percent of its skilled technicians and power plant operators, plus 40 percent of engineers and line workers, in the near future
due to its aging workforce.1 The first step in linking women with careers in the green economy is recruiting and retaining them in
the prerequisite training or entry-level positions.
Pursuing a “non-traditional” career, one in which one-fourth of the workforce or less is composed of women, may seem out of
reach for some women. One key reason women do not go into green jobs, such as the skilled trades, are a lack of knowledge about
the jobs available, including their duties, working conditions, wages and benefits, and qualifications. Women may also be
hindered by a lack of training and education, not having female role models in those occupations, and by misconceptions about
what occupations are appropriate for women.2 Women need to be exposed to the green occupations available in order to best
plan their careers. Workforce development professionals are in the position to encourage women to explore the breadth of green
jobs and to dispel the myths which may limit their aspirations. Consider the following common myths about green jobs and

 Myth 1: Green jobs are only for highly educated workers with a strong knowledge of math and science. Many green jobs

do require math and science skills, but the amount of knowledge varies greatly. Green-collar jobs range from low-skill, entrylevel positions to high-skill, higher-paying jobs. This creates a spectrum of opportunities for women of all backgrounds to
enter and advance in the green economy.

 Myth 2: Green jobs are all in construction or the trades. In fact, green jobs do exist in the trades and in construction, but

there are many other occupations that support the green economy. For instance, there are manufacturers that produce earthfriendly products, designers of energy-efficient technologies, and investors that trade carbon credits. 3

 Myth 3: Green jobs are too dangerous and dirty for women. Certain green jobs can be dirty, like installing insulation in a

house, and others can sometimes be dangerous. However, women, like men, must compare the hazards with the benefits of
taking certain jobs. Many traditionally female jobs, like care-giving and nursing, are difficult and may be dirty or dangerous
as well. Many women do not mind getting dirty when they are paid a good wage, and with proper safety precautions, all
workers can minimize the danger that they may experience on the job.

 Myth 4: Women and men are represented equally in most occupations. It is true that women have made tremendous

progress toward gaining economic equality during the last several decades, and today women earn 60 percent of the college
degrees awarded each year and fully half of the doctorates and the professional degrees. Almost 40 percent of working
women hold managerial and other professional positions, and the number of women-owned businesses is growing at a rate
nearly two-and-a-half times faster than the growth in the number of total businesses. 4 It is also true that women workers
continue to be concentrated in traditionally female occupations. In 2009, women held 96.8 percent of all available secretary
and administrative assistant positions, 81.9 percent of all elementary and middle school teaching positions, 88.4 percent of all
nursing, psychiatric, and home health aide positions; and 74.4 percent of the nation’s cashier positions.5

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Recruiting and Retaining Women in Green Jobs Training and Employment Fact Sheet

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Recruitment and Retention for Training Programs
Green job training program coordinators need to reach out to women with essential information about the training process, the
credentials to be earned, and career potential following the training. In addition, program coordinators should consider how best
to serve women if the training is for a non-traditional occupation for women. Does the program offer female instructors and
mentors? Are the tools and safety equipment sized appropriately for women? Can the program offer a women-only introductory
class? Are the partner employers welcoming and responsive to hiring women graduates? By conducting outreach and providing
a more welcoming atmosphere, program coordinators will help more women access and benefit from the program.

Recruitment and Retention on the Job
Because many green jobs fall into occupational categories which are considered non-traditional for women, there is a greater
likelihood that women may face obstacles to staying in a job or advancing up the career ladder. This means that women should be
aware of those obstacles and armed to face them.

 Lack of Support. Some women may not receive adequate support from family or friends to encourage them to move forward



with a non-traditional job. To ease skeptics’ worries regarding a new job, women should study the field and occupation. Also
to maintain confidence and determination, women can find a support group or mentor in the field. This will ease self-doubts
as well as create a role model for how to overcome barriers.
Lack of Skills. Some women are deterred from entering a particular trade or occupation because they lack the necessary
skills. However, skill gaps can be overcome through on-the-job training, apprenticeship training, and remedial coursework, if
Difficulty Balancing Work and Life Outside Work. Achieving a balance in work and personal lives is a concern for many
working women. One-third of women believe that the difficulty of combining work and family is their biggest work-related
problem.6 The reality is that a woman working full-time in a high-skilled, high-wage job is much more likely to have paid time
off, a flexible work schedule, and other family-friendly benefits, thus allowing more quality time to be spent with family.7
There are many resources available that can provide women with the added supports that make a successful career and home
life possible. For instance, community and faith-based organizations, female-oriented professional associations, and a variety
of state and local programs can make a real difference.
Harassment in the Workplace. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive
work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature; it can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex, race, color, religion,
national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making
offensive comments about women in general. Women should learn their rights and their options for recourse.

The Role of Workforce Professionals, Training and Education Providers, and Advocates
In addition to the suggestions above for “opening doors” to women in the green economy, those in workforce development can
assist in the following ways:

 When a woman comes to you for assistance, be open to helping her find a green job, even one that may be non-traditional.

Encourage her to consider jobs that suit her skills, interests, and experiences and locate green job options that may be a good
Get to know your local resources. What are in-demand green occupations in your region? What training programs are
available? What resources are available that may be of value to women as they overcome barriers due to poverty or child
care responsibilities?
Business services staff at higher education institutions, One-Stop centers, and others in workforce development can also
ensure that employers are educated about the concerns for women in non-traditional occupations. Develop specific materials
on this issue to share.
Help employers connect to excellent female job candidates exiting training programs in the area or looking to advance their

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 Inform women about steps they can take to deal with harassment. For instance, remind them that it is a good idea to keep a


written record describing each incident, including what happened, where, on what date, and who was present. Ensure that
women are aware of any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available. Finally, educate women about the
role of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in cases where discrimination is suspected.
Consider establishing a network of female employees in a given industry. This peer network would not only serve as a
support system for women, encouraging them to continue forward with their jobs, but would also create the basis for a
mentorship program to encourage new recruits.

To listen to the teleconference that accompanies this fact sheet, and for further information about “A Woman’s Guide to Green Jobs”
and other Women’s Bureau initiatives supporting green jobs, including the Women and Green Jobs Roundtables and green training
projects, please visit the USDOL Women’s Bureau Web site at:

End Notes
Dexter, Kristen et al. “Women, Jobs, and Wisconsin’s Green Economy: Public Policy Roundtable.” Wisconsin Women’s Council. 2009.
2 Ibid.
3 Bracken Hendricks et al., “Seven Questions About Green Jobs: Why the Most Productive Jobs of the Future Will Be Green Jobs,” Center for American
Progress. 2009.
4 Boushey, Heather and Ann O’Leary. A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything. Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. 2009.
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Leading Occupations of Employed Women” (2009).
6 Business and Professional Women’s Foundation. “Work-Life Balance” (2009).

7 Workplace Flexiblity 2010. “A Comparison of Men’s and Women’s Access to and Use of FWAs.” Project of Georgetown Law and the Urban Institute


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Additional Resources

The list below provides additional resources. The list is not
exhaustive, and inclusion on this list does not represent an
endorsement of any institution or program. As Web links can
change, further Internet searches may be necessary to find the
latest information.
Green and Non-Traditional Job Training Programs
Government Resources

 Green Jobs, Workforce3One Communities. This site


compiles an ongoing list of training programs,
evaluations, and other green economy information.
California’s Energy Workforce Training Program. This
program identifies positions which may offer preference
to targeted populations and who to target to recruit.

Non-Government Resources

 The Green Advantage. This organization offers

individual green certification, including seminars and
Hard Hatted Women. This organization encourages
women to get involved in non-traditional work and
conducts support system building workshops.

Green Jobs
Government Resources
 O*Net OnLine. O*Net offers a search tool to find green
job opportunities in a particular field. This site allows
you to research the details of a green job, its
requirements, salary, work hours, etc. and has tools for
finding a job and building a resume.
 CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop’s Green Careers section
provides an outline of green careers in today’s changing

 U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. The Bureau
maintains data regarding the position of women in the
green workforce and highlights potential jobs,
challenges, and training programs in regards to women.

Non-Government Resources
 This Web site is for
professionals promoting and creating green jobs and
enables people to share ideas as well as job
Workers’ Rights
Government Resources
 U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and
Health Administration. Information about worker health
and safety standards and available training.
Specific information about safety and health for women
working in construction at:
 U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.
Information on state minimum wage laws and other
wage-related rights.
Sexual Harassment
Government Resources
 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
Information on sexual harassment can be found at
m. For more information on sex-based discrimination
Non-Government Resources
 National Women’s Law Center. Answers to frequently
asked questions about sexual harassment and includes
tips on what to do if you are being sexually harassed at

This fact sheet was produced by Public Policy Associates, Incorporated, in partnership with Wider Opportunities for Women, as part of the U.S. Department of Labor,
Women’s Bureau’s “A Woman’s Guide to Green Jobs” publication series designed to aid in increasing women’s access to high-growth and emerging industry occupations
in the green jobs sector nationwide. This report was funded through Contract Number DOLJ099429561 from the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. The
materials referenced and the opinions expressed in this product do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, and no official
endorsements by that agency should be inferred.

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