Green Women, Healthy Voices: Michelle Esguerra

Photography by Inye Wokoma / Ijo Arts Media Group

Michelle Esguerra is a journey-level, union electrician who lost her full-time job in 2009 a few months before her daughter, Clover, was born. She recently became a certified energy auditor through a federal stimulus funded green job training program. Michelle is hopeful that green jobs such as energy auditing can become career pathways for other single mothers.

“Part of the reason why I entered a “green job” and started my new training, is because I wanted a job, any job – and the energy auditing industry is a growing industry, and so if it’s growing, and has some chance of being stable, then that’s where I’m going.

Having accessible training – that I didn’t have to pay for – was very helpful. Don’t get me wrong, I invested a lot in this. I still had to fight tooth and nail to get free daycare for my daughter while I was in class…

For green jobs to be accessible to other single parents, definitely the job hours need to fit daycare hours. I still want to be an electrician, but the hours are crazy. No daycare opens before 6:30 AM and usually you have to be on the job by 6:00 AM.

…While I’m a licensed electrician, that’s not necessary to do the energy auditing job. Yes, there are some physical elements and you do have to be willing to get dirty; however there is also a ton of paperwork and a certain amount of organization and meticulousness you need to possess to succeed. We need to argue that many of these skills – that women workers might already possess – would be helpful in this industry.

I think what would need to happen on the industry end, to make these jobs more accessible to women, is for them to recognize what many women’s work backgrounds can bring to the auditing process. It can be just as easy to train a woman with strong computer skills and a sales background to audit a home as it is to train a person with a strong construction background to navigate unfamiliar computer programs and make a sale.”

Got Green will be celebrating the international day of action on climate change on September 24th a little differently than other actions nationwide by releasing a report on what low-income women and people of color have to say about their priorities for the green movement- to change the climate of our communities.

Click here to join Got Green on Saturday, September 24 from 12-2 PM at South Lake High School in Rainier Beach (8601 Rainier Ave S, 98118) as we release our report, Women in the Green Economy: Voices from SE Seattle. Free healthy lunch and childcare provided.

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