I attended an industry networking event, where senior consultants from across the industry met to discuss change across the sector. One thing that struck me, was that out of a room of around 20 executives, there was only one other woman.
The lack of women in the energy sector has long been documented, and there seem to be a variety of reasons why it does not seem to be an attractive career choice for women. The EU skills have documented that an estimated 22,000 qualified women have left engineering type roles after maternity or career breaks, with more than 75% wanting to return to work. However, many women are put off because of inflexible working hours and practices. We really need to consider how we can create more flexible working to keep qualified woman in the Industry.
I’ve worked in this sector for over 20 years, and in that time, it has been a predominantly male environment. Energy seems to suffer more than other industries – and that needs to change.
Is it just that women don’t see Energy as an option for them? Traditionally it has been regarded as very ‘engineering’ focussed, and the lack of women in engineering is well documented. However, the industry is crying out for a range of other skills and experience, particularly in Retail Energy, where women can have a really positive impact.
The Energy industry itself has some great female role models: Dorothy Thompson – CEO at Drax, Gwen Parry-Jones at EDF and Julia Davenport – Founder and CEO at Good Energy, to name just a few.
Initiatives such as POWERful Women http://www.powerfulwomen.org.uk.mww.se/ have been set up to showcase female leadership potential in the UK’s Energy sector. Their ambition is that of 30% of executive Energy company board members and 40% of Energy company middle management should be female by 2030 – a powerful ambition indeed!
I too share that ambition – I am actively persuading women from other sectors to either join the industry or to put themselves forward for a role that they might not have previously considered because of it being perceived as a ‘male’ dominated position in the past.
There are so many options these days for women to consider, and as someone who has chosen to make energy my career, I’m passionate about encouraging other women to make that choice too!