07 July 2011

We Need More Crazy-Smart Women Leaders in Cleantech

Lucinda Bromwyn Duncalfe
My friend Lucinda Bromwyn Duncalfe always makes me think.

She's "crazy-smart," as she likes to say of others.  One of the smartest people I know.  So I pay attention to what she says or what she writes about.

Lucinda is a serial CEO.  Her gift is to see the potential in a company or its product and take it to the next level.

More often than not, this results in a sale of the company and Lucinda moving on to her next thing.

Lucinda's two posts on women in tech got me thinking this morning.

Specifically, her thoughts on the lack of women in number one positions in tech companies.  She posted her thoughts about Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg on her great new blog here and linked to this story about Google's Marissa Mayer here.

Women in tech is not my usual subject, but I couldn't help drawing parallels with the cleantech world.

Of the cleantech companies I've worked with or advised in the Philadelphia area, two have women CEOs: Emily Landsburg of BlackGold BioFuels and Elinor Haider of NovaThermal Energy.  They are two of the best CEOs I know -- women or men -- and they possess, as Lucinda describes, "all the normal super-powers: crazy-smart, hard working, clearly emotionally intelligent."

In this old (2007) list of Top 10 Women in Cleantech, only one is identified as a CEO, and a couple are listed as Founders or Managing Directors.  The Women in Cleantech and Green Industry group on LinkedIn has 424 members and, while it is managed by a woman, Catherine Bowers, it appears to be owned by a man, Robert Hokin, founder of UK-based ecoConnect.

Ann Goodman, founder of the Women's Network for a Sustainable Future, profiled one cleantech CEO, former undersecretary of energy Kristina Johnson, of hydropower startup Enduring Energy, in her post on GreenBiz.com this past April, How to Grow Women's Potential in Cleantech and the Economy.

Few cleantech companies have women on their boards.  According to an article in VentureBeat in March, Cleantech's sausagefest: 25 companies with all-male boards," the majority of the top 10 cleantech companies as ranked this year by the Wall Street Journal have no female board directors."

Lindsey Riddell, writing in the San Francisco Business Times last year, offered a hopeful outlook for woman leading cleantech and social media companies.

"There is a lot of hope that unlike the semiconductor, telecom and other technology fields, cleantech and social media will become sectors where more women advance to the top, even if that isn’t necessarily the case today, said Caroline Simard, vice president of research and executive programs at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in Palo Alto."

So, while the future may be bright for women CEOs in cleantech and social media, there's still a long way to go.

As Lucinda concluded her post this morning, she finds Sandberg an interesting model, "Yet it pisses me off that she’s the newest girl tech darling. Why?  Because she’s a #2.  She may be the best #2 in history, but I wish we had #1 role models."

Lucinda just sold her latest venture, Click Equations, where she was CEO.  I know she'll be #1 again in her next venture.  I hope she finds something in the cleantech space where I think she could have a real impact.

We need more crazy-smart leaders like her.

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