Greece-based solar module supplier, Recom, previously accused of "sexist" marketing campaigns, has announced a scholarship for women working in solar.
Recom is offering two candidates a financial award to attend UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Program in April 2014.
“Recom hopes to encourage women to excel in solar and become active role models and leaders in the field,” the company said in a statement.
On Monday Recom also launched a funding initiative for conservation efforts of the Amur Leopard. Donators are entered into a prize draw for a Recom-funded zoology trip to Russia. Recom is hoping to raise US$50,000 in total over 12 months to go towards conservation efforts.
The launch of the scholarship comes after marketing initiatives by the company earlier this year prompted calls for an end to “booth babe” culture in the promotion of solar energy.
Recom’s stand at Intersolar Europe in June drew particular criticism and earned the nickname of the “S&M booth” after displaying women in cages elevated off the show floor.
The US Women in Solar Energy group, Forbes journalist Ucilia Wang and Run on Sun CEO Jim Jenal have all been critical of the company, the latter accusing Recom of being "sexist" in a blog following Intersolar's North America outing in July. The issue of the solar industry’s lack of senior female role models was also recently highlighted in a special report by PV Tech.
After the announcement Jenal told PV Tech he thinks Recom is "throwing a few thousand dollars at their obvious PR problem" and highlighted its website, which still shows images of "booth babes" and women in cages. "I would be happy if they had really changed their views but until they scrub their website, I'm not impressed," he said.
Recom’s website describes its marketing technique as an experience where visitors can “see the most extravagant booths, listen to the best music and join us in a place where reality becomes unreal”.
Applicants for the scholarship must be US citizens, have three years solar industry experience or education and submit an essay to be considered, with successful applicants being announced in March 2014.