“Listen, love, why don’t you give me your boss’s email and I can send
him a message explaining this”
a comment made to a contact of mine recently at an exhibition. Never mind that
her boss is a woman, nor that she would be more than capable of understanding
the technology herself.
Was it intentionally sexist? Probably not. Should the chap in question know better? I think so. Does the renewables industry put people off? Sometimes. I have discussed this question with my network and the comments aren’t new but the reality is there isn’t a gender balance in the renewables industry. Particularly when it comes to technical and engineering roles.
So what can we do?
1. Start young – if we’re talking about how to recruit more women, then the conversation is happening a little late. There is a role here for schools, parents, communities and siblings before girls get turned off technical career paths by well-meaning but not helpful peers, teachers or relatives. But there’s a role for the low carbon energy and transport industries too.
people how exciting our industry is – we’re on the cusp of the biggest
transition we’ve seen in power and transport than we’ve seen before. Everything
is changing, we’re decarbonising the system but even if you don’t care about
climate change (I know, what?!) the technology is cool.
Decentralised generation, smarter systems, more data, more services for
customers: blockchain, IOT, energy storage, low carbon vehicles, smart meters…
the list goes on and on! This is a vibrant, exciting and meaningful industry.
conversation about women’s skills versus men’s skills misses the point entirely–
not all women are good at so called “softer skills” not all men are born
technical wizards. It’s about building a plan for the kind of company you need
in the future and using diversity of gender, age, race and socioeconomic
background to cover the skills gap that you need.
4. We – the
women already in the industry – are not always supportive of others–shocking
but true. When was the last time you gave someone a leg-up? Business has become
more competitive these days but there is room to be a strong woman in the
industry and lift others up (you could lift some men up too).
Aaaand, do you know the right person in your business to push this with? If
you’re not an HR/hiring manager, then you need to ask them what they’re doing
to plan for a diverse future.
are an essential part of the conversation – and I’ve been so
impressed to see how many take an active role in these panel discussions
because they know how important it is to have the best talent in their business
and – most importantly – retain and motivate them.
all need a good mentor – sometimes that’s someone else amazing,
sometimes it’s you, I’m afraid.
family or life outside work has to take precedence – for men and for
women and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. As long as you generally put the
best bits of your professional self into your work.
boundaries – sometimes you will have to say “that’s not my job”
or “can youmake some tea (for a change)”. Demonstrate
that your skills lie elsewhere and aren’t where people are expecting them to
lie, purely based on their perceptions of your gender.
road is long – this isn’t something we can change overnight but
this issue is picking up momentum at the moment.
road is long but it’s full of opportunity – for us as employees, for
employers and to decarbonise energy and transport, or at the very least to play
with some cool tech.
I want to
hear from you! What have your experiences been and what tips would you have for
women in your network?