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EEI Recognizes Women's Equality Day
EEI Recognizes Women's Equality Day
On August 26, EEI will recognize Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote in the United States. The amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, but was officially enacted more than a week later.
This victory was the culmination of a decades-long women’s suffrage and equal rights movement. In 1971, Representative Bella Abzug championed a bill to designate August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day,” and the U.S. Congress passed it in 1973.
On Women’s Equality Day, EEI honors not just women’s rights and the people who advocate for them, but also the continuing efforts to advance equity for diverse groups, including women. Electric companies are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout their workplaces and the communities they are proud to serve.
Earlier this year, EEI published an Electric Perspectives podcast episode titled, “Women in Leadership,” featuring Puget Sound Energy (PSE) President and CEO Mary Kipp and Lisa Barton, American Electric Power (AEP) executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer. This discussion was led by Emily Fisher, EEI’s General Counsel and senior vice president of clean energy, and it covered their experiences as women leaders and how their companies are empowering women today.
Kipp acknowledged that the industry has come a long way when it comes to increasing diversity in leadership, but said she hopes to see more women and people of color in leadership roles. At the same time, she applauded the industry for increasing its female representation overall since she began her career.
Both El Paso Electric, where Kipp formerly served as president and CEO, and PSE have employee-based women’s groups to support female employees. Kipp hired female summer interns who are liberal arts students this summer to show that there are opportunities in the industry for all students.
“I want to show women there are all kinds of opportunities here,” Kipp said. “We have to make sure that, in a very intentional way, we promote opportunities for women and have these resources available.”
While Kipp was serving as president of El Paso Electric, a group of female employees worked together to form a women’s leadership group for fellow employees.
“We announced it during my first year as president, I believe that’s continued to this day. So, I think that’s made a difference. It’s a place where women can talk about leadership, can be vulnerable, and talk about our experiences,” Kipp said.
Barton said it’s important to expose students to different types of careers, and that’s something AEP focuses on. The company has several internship and high school programs to introduce students to the electric power industry. AEP also provides the Women in Linework program, a 14-month training program that helps women in the Columbus, Ohio area begin a lineworker career.
“I think one of the things that this industry brings is that everyone in it, everyone who is associated with this industry, cares so much about the communities and the customers that they serve,” said Barton. “And, I think that that resonates with a lot of women. We need to get that message out more in the engineering ranks, in the finance ranks. I mean, this is just a wonderful industry and we're all fortunate to be a part of it because we're helping to build the lives of our customers and communities.”
Barton echoed Kipp’s sentiment about the increase of female representation in the electric power industry. When she first started her career, she often found herself being the only woman in the room.
“It's funny to think back to those days versus where we are now. We're in a much, much better place,” she said. “That said, there's more that we need to do, and I think the focus that a lot of companies are taking on diversity and inclusion is helping women to be more successful, and to have that opportunity to shine and demonstrate their leadership capabilities in a very male-dominated world.”
To learn more about the electric power industry’s DEI commitment, visit EEI’s DEI webpage.