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.

Taking action

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. 

The LSDC conducted a survey and a series of workshops in 2018 to deep dive into the issues, challenges and opportunities for women led cleantech enterprises and those women looking to start one.

Our research and resulting report in December 2018 identified further work needed to help address some of these challenges. The action plan developed from this initial evidence base aims to ensure that the London cleantech economy benefits from attracting female innovators to the field, keeping them in a thriving business community and helping them succeed in cleantech entrepreneurship as current and future market leaders. The plan is divided up into four workstreams each being led by one of our four steering group members. The plan is now being finalised and will be published in the coming months.

You can read our 2018 Women In Cleantech report here:

Women in Clean tech report


If you'd like to hear more about the work we're doing or to get involved then please get in touch with us.

Meet the Steering Group

This work is being driven forward by our steering group comprising a group of inspiring female innovators and entrepreneurs.

Read more about them and what matters to them.


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.

Lee-Ann Perkins

Lee-Ann Perkins
After spending 24 years in the military, I made the very deliberate decision to move into a vastly different geography, sector and role in the sustainability domain and have been excited to be working there for the past 6 years, all within the entrepreneurial setting.  I began with a focus on energy efficiency in the domestic housing arena along with fuel poverty targeting and reduction.  More recently, though, I’ve moved to a role which applies my experiences of team building and leadership to deliver programmes which help cleantech and sustainable startups succeed.  This has resulted in working with more than 100 small companies whose purpose is to tackle climate change and environmental and resource scarcity challenges with commercial solutions.  I derive immense personal satisfaction from contributing to the innovation these small businesses push forward as I believe they are a significant key to addressing climate change.

Working with startups and small businesses is ever-changing and never boring.  I am surprised and impressed each day by the creativity, drive and ingenuity of the entrepreneurs in this sector.  Women, in particular, despite the odds (only 19% of such businesses are women-led), build fantastic new businesses which have social purpose at their core and an aim to make the world a better place in one way or another.  Knowing that I have a role to play in that keeps me interested and young at heart. 

My own experience as being a woman in traditionally male-dominated roles and industries has had its challenges, and has overall still been more positive than negative.  Despite my affirmative experiences, I don’t believe enough is being done to create environments where women and other underrepresented groups can thrive, and this is particularly true of entrepreneurship where women are at the start of their journey.  Early in my careers, both in the military and within Sustainable Ventures, I was blessed to have supportive people all around, equally men and women—family, friends, leaders, colleagues--and that’s what today’s women need in order to succeed.  This support can come in a variety of shapes and forms and does not always have to be momentous.  Often, a well placed word of encouragement or backing is all it takes.  I make conscious efforts every day to encourage, support and create opportunities for these women-led businesses to succeed in parity with their male counterparts. 

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