WAKE FOREST – Wake Forest-based entrepreneur Helen Whiteley founded Women+ in Climate Tech (WiCT+) in 2020, and the organization has grown to over 2,000 subscribers worldwide. 

Whiteley told me that one of their main goals is to help the tech industry see gender equity, defined as access to family planning and education, as an almost 70-gigaton opportunity to sequester or remove carbon from our atmosphere. 

“That’s the equivalent of 8 billion cars,” said Whiteley in an interview. “That’s all the world’s cars off the roads for 5 years.”

This data comes from Project Drawdown, a research group that publishes data about the potential “drawdown” effects of gender equity—basically, the potential to draw carbon out of our atmosphere.

“One of the things this shows is how complex and interrelated climate issues are, but it also shows that gender is a climate solutions multiplier,” said Whiteley. “If we can embed gender equity into all climate work—from hiring or funding more women in climate tech to providing insurance and other financial products to underserved women-owned businesses in the supply chain—our net impact is multiplied.” 

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WiCT+ published a 2022 report on Climate Risk and is currently collecting salary data for professionals in ESG (environmental, social, governance), sustainability, or climate tech. 

“Our members and sponsors are helping to spread the message that gender equity should be embedded into every climate solution,” said Whiteley.

The organization hosts events worldwide, most recently in London and San Francisco. 

“We’re helping tech to understand the intersection of gender equality and climate solutions,” said Whiteley. “It’s like distributed computing—we need to get this message embedded in every system, across all of tech. Every climate solution, every tech space, should also be looking at gender equality.” 

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, yet they are often underrepresented in the development of climate solutions. And according to information published by the UN, increasing women’s representation in politics, leadership, and board rooms leads to increased adoption of climate change policies and improved transparency around climate impact. 

“Climate change is not gender-neutral. Women and girls are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but they are also the ones who are leading the charge in finding innovative solutions,” said Whiteley. “One of many benefits of addressing the gender gap in the tech industry is that we can ensure women have a seat at the table and can contribute their unique perspectives and skills to the fight against climate change.”

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Support in the Triangle

“There’s a sense of urgency and commitment to sustainability in the Triangle,” said Whiteley. “There’s this unique blend of scientific expertise, business support, and community engagement, and I think the residents here have seen how vulnerable we are to the effects of climate change.”

While the organization is focused on growing internationally, Whiteley is planning on hosting events in North Carolina. 

“We’re thankful to be based here, and we want to do our part to amplify the expertise that’s here,” said Whiteley.

Learn more about Women+ in Climate Tech at womeninclimatetech.org.


Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire contributor Sarah Glova works with WiCT+ as the nonprofit’s Director of Partnership.