“The future of cities and energy efficiency could be a very bright one – but we have to get there,” said MIT Professor Dr. Amy Glasmeier at today’s launch of the 2014 Women in Clean Energy Symposium in Boston.

But, before she launched into a discussion of the evolution of the urban energy system, Dr. Glasmeier commented on how unusual it was for her to look into the audience at an energy conference and see “a sea full of women.”

Launched in 2010 at the first Clean Energy Ministerial, the Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) women’s initiative works to advance women’s leadership in the clean energy arena. The initiative works in partnership with governments around the world to increase the contributions of women in this historically male dominated field. Two years later, C3E launched its annual symposium in order to bring key women and future female leaders in the energy sector into a room to talk about the future of the industry.

This was the third annual symposium under the C3E initiative and co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI). In her recap of last year’s C3E symposium, Plugged In’s Sheril Kirshenbaum said that “it’s not “nice” to include women in the energy sector, it’s essential.” Her key (not energy specific) takeaway from the meeting was summarised as follows:

“Reducing barriers to female participation in the workforce can increase GDP up to 9 percent. Translation: When we work to include women, it benefits everyone."

This year’s meeting hopes to carry this idea a few steps forward, with talks including a “Women in Leadership” keynote by Dr. Heather Foust-Cummings on the stereotypes that women face in the workplaces.

Dr. Foust-Cummings has worked for many years on profiling high-level women executives in companies that have “demonstrated a sustained commitment over time to having a significant proportion of women on the board.” She highlighted the stereotypes recently portrayed in the “Run Like a Girl” video that went viral earlier this year and discussed how stereotypes can help and hinder women in the workplace.

For the remainder of this symposium, talks will focus on energy investment strategies, intelligent systems in power grid modernization, and the concepts of energy and mobility in future cities. Tomorrow morning, Governor Christine Todd Whitman will provide the second day keynote, presumably focusing on nuclear power and how to safely increase (Governor Whitman currently serves as the Co-Chair of The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition).

Those who cannot attend the symposium in person can watch live webinar coverage online here.

Photo Credit: C3E