WiRES Scotland is a network for women working or interested in working in renewable energy in Scotland – so much is true. But behind the scenes is a mesh to provide a channel for the views and perspectives of women in the renewables sector.
Their goals for funding period until March 2015 are:
- offer a forum for women to share experiences
- a mentoring programme that enables women to better plan their careers;
- hold regular networking events
- hold a series of site visits and expert talks
- raise awareness of the barriers for women in the sector and disseminate finding to employers and other stakeholders
One case study, by Susanne Mueller, may give you an insight to how they all work together.
And it may just show you that it would be a good idea to join in…
Case study: Susanne Mueller
Susanne Mueller, communications, vento ludens Ltd: ‘Women bring skills to a team that enable business success.’
Please tell us a bit about your current role.
I am managing the public relations (corporate and projects PR) for vento ludens which includes media relations and public affairs. My main objective within this role is to communicate effectively with all stakeholders relevant to us. It is a challenging and very dynamic working environment which is why I highly enjoy my work.
How did you come to be in the job you are currently in?
In a way you could say I fell into it. I started off as an Office Manager in vento ludens within a team of five people and about the same time I started working on a PhD. After the first year at vento ludens the company grew and so did I professionally. In this situation it became apparent that a dedicated PR person was required, so this position was offered to me. I had already been doing some work in this area but taking on this role gave me the opportunity to focus all my time on the PR duties. It has been an incredible journey over the past two years.
My background is in Social Science and I always had a focus on media and communication.
What attracted you to work in the renewable energy sector?
I have been interested in the subject of sustainability throughout university and felt that working in the renewables sector was very attractive because it is a relatively young sector. There are many experienced professionals out there, however it is important for young professionals to come in with fresh ideas and help to move the sector forward. Being able to contribute to a renewable energy future is very rewarding and a unique experience.
From your perspective, what opportunities does the renewables sector present for women?
I feel the renewables sector is a very open one due to the fact that it is relatively young. The sector has a constant requirement for new innovation and it especially depends on a good balance of mixed professionals in order to be successful. I feel this happening as more and more women enter the renewables sector. It is not only women with an engineering degree that are needed. Women have a very valuable part to play in all the areas which is something that gets easily forgotten.
What do you see as possible barriers for women working in renewable energy industries?
I don’t think there are any barriers for women getting into the sector as such as it is very open. However, progressing a career in this sector will have similar obstacles as in any other industries. Women who need to take career breaks may feel this is a barrier, but if they work for a company who have all correct procedures in place they will not encounter any barriers.
Did you encounter any barriers trying to pursue your chosen career along the way?
I did not encounter any specific barriers that would have stopped me from advancing my career so far. I am also confident that working at vento ludens and having a family does not exclude each other. The team is young and reflects the spirit of renewables and having a family is not seen as a barrier to career. I am conscious though there will have to be compromises.
Have you had to make any compromises to do so?
No, not so far.
What do you think are the possible solutions to increase the representation of women in the renewable energy sector?
I think more women in senior positions help to give a great example to young women in the sector. Universities also need to empower women from day one. Providing regular training to senior management regarding recruiting “equally” is very important.
What advice would you give to other women who are thinking of working in the renewable energy sector?
My advice would be to push hard. In renewables the sky is the limit. Creativity and determination is the key to success in the sector. In addition to that everyone should be willing to challenge the status quo and demonstrate that women bring skills to a team that enable business success.