Our Women in Cleantech work

How far are we from gender parity in London’s cleantech industry? How can we bring more women into the city’s cleantech start-ups? What are the current barriers faced by women in entering and leading the sector, and how can we design these out? These are some of the questions being addressed by the ‘Women in Cleantech’ strand of the LSDC’s Cleantech and Innovation work.


Businesses with women at strategic and senior management levels have been shown generally to outperform those without. To help London’s large and growing cleantech sector reach its full potential, it must therefore draw from the talents and ideas of women as entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the percentage of women in cleantech is higher than in tech more broadly, but that many female heads of firms or innovators take a back seat to their male counterparts. This strand of LSDC work will explore the evidence base for this, help tease out why it might be happening and make recommendations for how to maximise opportunities for women in London’s cleantech sector.

Read the report. 

Why this work matters

Hear from some of the inspiring women in cleantech about why they think this work is important:

Catriona McGill

Catriona McGill
“I lead technology development at Desolenator, a cleantech start-up looking at solar-powered desalination. This basically involves using the sun’s energy to take the salt out of seawater so that people can drink it. My focus is on getting our first product to market: a household-size desalination unit.

“We have a giant issue in the cleantech and engineering sectors: there aren’t enough women. And this lack of gender parity means that women who do work in the sector can sometimes feel unwelcome, or like impostors. It’s not fair to exclude women from these brilliant roles and industries, and it’s indisputable that diverse teams produce better results.

“And the clean tech sector is important. There are so many climate-related problems we need to tackle. Which is why I feel it’s crucial to encourage more women to join London’s cleantech sector, so that we have the best teams working on the solutions to these global problems.

“And best of all, it’s one of the most exciting and empowering sectors to be a part of.”

Carolyn Hicks

"I am Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of Brill Power, a battery intelligence start-up. Brill Power makes advanced electronics for large battery packs that extend a battery’s lifetime by up to 60 per cent, avoiding wasted battery capacity that contributes to significant electronic waste.

"If I had to describe working as a female cleantech entrepreneur in one word, it would be: lonely. There are undoubtedly many amazing women out there, but I still continuously find myself at meetings, conferences, and workplaces where it’s difficult to even find one woman.

"The cleantech entrepreneurial space is one of the many places perfect for gender balance. I’m biased, but I think we have the best entrepreneurs – they are passionate and intelligent. Cleantech is super cool, both in what it does and how it does it. Cleantech is about changing the world, something that must be led by both men and women.

"So, why do I think it’s important to have women in cleantech? Because I need you here."

Nicola McCheyne

Nicola McCheyne
Over the last decade I've been at the forefront of disruption in the energy sector. From building local energy systems to testing new energy storage technologies, my focus has been on how we can accelerate the decarbonisation of the energy system. Today I'm Head of the Ideas Lab at Centrica Innovations, which invests in technology and ideas that will transform the way we all live, work and move. 

The future of energy will be driven by technology but shaped by creativity. The diversity required to accelerate this change requires three critical skills: curiosity, collaboration and creativity, and these will need to be executed with environmental and social purpose. This is the pivotal role I believe women in the sector can and need to lead.

As a woman in the cleantech sector I’ve experienced the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve experienced sexism in the workplace and have frequently observed how difficult it can be for women to progress. I've also been hugely fortunate to benefit from fantastic mentors, all men who pushed me to succeed and have confidence in my abilities. The sector is changing for the better, but this needs to accelerate to ensure we do not haemorrhage women at every stage of their career development.

What the LSDC is doing

The LSDC has conducted a sector survey and has held a series of workshops over the past few months. These workshops took a deep dive into the issues, the challenges and the opportunities for women-led cleantech enterprises, and women looking to start one. The outputs of these workshops helped inform a recommendations report and Action Plan.

If you are interested in getting involved in this work, or hearing more about it, please get in touch.

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