Mentoring to power gender equality in wind energy
A year earlier, alarmed by this dramatic situation, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the Global Women's Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) decided to join forces to launch the Women in Wind mentoring project. The 12-month program is aimed at women working in the wind energy sector who come from or live in one of the 19 emerging countries in the industry (Algeria, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam).
"We have focused on these regions because as emerging renewable energy markets, they typically do not have an international industry association with a certain level of resources or a women's organization representing the interests of women working in the wind sector," explains Joyce Lee, GWEC Policy and Operations Director.
The women's profile for this program goes beyond the stereotypes created, making it more inclusive. Participants must have been working in the wind sector for at least four years in any field, which means that this is not a program aimed at STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates, but can involve women working in any department, whether in the public or private sector. The program also does not establish an age range for participation.
"Most of our mentees are in their 20s or 30s, but if we had a mentee application from a woman in her 50s and she has limited professional experience, we would still welcome her. We have participants who are young students, and some who have family and children and are more high-profile, so we are flexible – many people can benefit from the support of a mentor," says Lee.
The "glass ceiling" is also a reality in the wind sector. According to the report Wind Energy: A Gender Perspective, only 8% of women in the sector hold top management positions. "In my experience, the hoops a woman ought to jump through, in order to be accepted by men as almost equal, are higher than the hoops to be jumped through by men for the same reason," explains Judit Szasz, Senior Project Manager Offshore at Siemens Gamesa and one of the mentors of this year’s edition of Women in Wind program.
"During my mentoring, I share with my mentee my experiences, successes, mistakes and failures as I believe this is the best way to contribute to their development. We also talk about confidence as a key to success. Women feel that they have to be 200% certain of something to say “yes” to it. However, men may not necessarily have thorough knowledge of a matter, but they just jump into and say “yes” to it. This may be because of lack of enough confidence in ourselves," Judit laments.
Her European Study Tour took place in Berlin and London and allowed her to visit numerous institutions and attend several conferences during a week. "In Berlin I had the opportunity to meet Elbia Gannoum, the president of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association and now also the Vice Chair Board of the Global Wind Energy Council. “She is an incredible woman who has done a great job in Brazil. Wind energy has grown very quickly there, and it was very interesting to be able to talk to her," explains Luiza enthusiastically.
In her opinion, girls need female role models to help changing this scenario and unfortunately there are not many examples of women in top management positions. "When I meet someone who thinks that gender equality is not important, I like to ask them: how many female managers have you had as a boss in your career? I believe that letting them think about it themselves has greater impact.”, she says.
More information on the Women in Wind Global Leadership Program can be found here