"I am just as good an engineer and team leader as all the men"

Breaking through Moroccan glass ceilings

Interview with Soumia Benamrane

Hamburg / 11 February 2021

Women across the world face tougher hurdles to enter the jobs market, and even tougher to reach management positions. Soumia Benamrane, head of quality management at Siemens Gamesa's blade plant in Tangier, Morocco, has taken many strides forward in her career to break through the glass ceiling. We spoke to her to mark International Women and Girls in Science Day about her background, responsibilities, and why she chose to embark on a STEM career.

Head of Sustainability Communication
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was launched by the United Nations in 2015 to draw attention to the long-standing implicit biases and gender stereotypes faced by girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Although women have made tremendous strides in increasing their share of higher education, STEM disciplines remain predominantly male and women are underrepresented.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the main barriers to women entering the wind industry are perceptions of gender roles, cultural and social norms, followed by a lack of gender-specific targets, prevailing hiring practices, self-perceptions, workplace policies and a lack of awareness of opportunities. Siemens Gamesa understands that the wind industry's recruiting and hiring practices must reflect the industry's role in promoting sustainable and inclusive growth. Therefore, it is imperative for us to tap into the largest possible pool of talent to improve competitiveness and bring wind energy to the forefront of innovation.
Soumia with the whole team from Tanger, Morocco
We recently announced our new Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and set ambitious gender equality targets to significantly increase the number of women in the workforce and in senior management by 2025. To celebrate women and girls in science, today we want to highlight a Siemens Gamesa employee who has already broken the dreaded glass ceiling: Soumia Benamrane, head of quality management at Siemens Gamesa's blade plant in Tangier, Morocco.

Born in Rabat, Soumia enjoyed a nomadic childhood thanks to her father's professional career. She moved from one Moroccan city to the next, learning new languages, dialects and customs that make up the country's diversity. She started her professional career as a quality manager after graduating as a mechanical engineer from Casablanca Engineering University (ENSEM) 19 years ago.
Soumia Benamrane, head of quality management at SGRE in Morocco
Soumia, what made you choose STEM as an academic and career path?
STEM disciplines permeate every part of our lives: science is all around us; technology is continuously spreading into every aspect of our lives; engineering is the basic design of everyday things like roads or bridges, but also aims to solve challenges like making our homes more environmentally friendly; math is in every activity we do in our lives. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to understand how the world works as a whole. Considering that every decision made uses some aspect of STEM to understand its implications, it was my way of getting closer to that overall understanding.
In our ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it is now more important than ever to have the knowledge and skills to solve problems and make sense of information, to know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. My interest in STEM has made me a critical thinker and fostered my ingenuity and creativity. It has given me confidence to know that I can rely on logic in science - something I can trust and build on in everyday life.
You joined Siemens Gamesa in 2016 as head of quality management at our blade plant in Tangier. What are your responsibilities?
I lead our quality management activities and ensure that the plant complies with the global corporate strategy and quality targets. Together with my team of 30 collaborators, we make sure everything meets quality standards and improve processes when necessary.

To be successful in this job, I believe one must be driven by the idea that there is always a better way to do everyday tasks and have the ambition to deliver projects that fully meet the customers' needs. I take pride in the valuable contribution that the blade plant in Tangier is making to Morocco's strategic Green Generation Plan, which aims to generate 50% of the country's total energy capacity with green energy by 2030.
You work in a male-dominated profession, in a plant with very few other women in production, and in a country where women are not the norm in your profession. What challenges did you have to face to get to where you are today?
I grew up without any restrictions - if I wanted to be an engineer, my family supported it. That shaped me and my ambition. In general, I'm not easily swayed by any limitations imposed on me by society.

Also, before joining Siemens Gamesa, I worked many years in the aerospace and automotive industries as a quality manager. 
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Considering that these are also male-dominated sectors, the renewable energy sector did not present me with any new challenges that I did not know before.

Throughout my career, regardless of the industry or work environment, I have always pushed myself to work harder and made sure to be heard by colleagues of all genders. Since I am the only woman in the operations leadership team at our Tangier plant, I am determined to make people understand that I am just as good an engineer and team leader as all the men, if not better. It shouldn't be about gender, it should be about skills, qualifications and the value that person can add to the company.
What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self?
Believe in yourself, no matter what anyone or society tells you. And work hard. Nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams and only you decide if your dreams come true.

Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!


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