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 talksraise awareness of the barriers for women in the sector and disseminate finding to employers and other stakeholders
One case study, by Gail Watt, 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: Gail Watt
Gail Watt, Partner in a law firm specialising in renewable energy: ‘We need to actively challenge the long established gender stereotypes within STEM.’
Details of your current role (and company if possible), perhaps including why/how you decided to work in the renewable energy sector.
Partner in Energy Law Unlimited LLP, a law firm specialising in the energy and renewable energy sectors, prior to this I was an in house lawyer and project manager with a European large scale onshore wind developer. I left a career in private legal practice because I sought a change in direction and career in the renewable energy sector. I am also the chairperson and co-founding member of Women in Renewable Energy Scotland.
From your perspective, what opportunities does the sector present for women?
Scotland has the natural resources and political will to place the country at the forefront to take advantage of the burgeoning renewables industry. This opens up opportunities across a great number of sectors and given the collaborative needs of this new industry it will also allow for existing skills to be utilised transferable across industries. The employment opportunities are there however the sector representatives, employers and the Government need to promote this effectively to raise the profile and highlight opportunities.
What do you see as possible barriers for women working in renewable energy industries?
There is a lack of encouragement and support for women entering the industry, from new entrants (an example of this are the low numbers of female entrants to the modern apprenticeship scheme at Nigg) to women seeking to change direction and move into the industry. Such transitions can only be made with a shift in perception that these industries are not just the province of men, and this can only be done with active support and encouragement.
What do you think are the possible solutions to increase the representation of women in the renewable energy sector?
An increase in promotion of the sector to young women in education, helping to challenge the established ‘gender roles’ in STEM. Having networking and supportive groups such as Women in Renewable Energy Scotland (WiRES) is a start, showing women that they do have representation in the industry, across all sectors regardless of status or situation. Highlighting ‘champions’ in the industry would also help provide role models and mentors for women seeking to join the industry. Employers could engage at all levels; schools, universities, trade fairs and show that the industry isn’t just ‘for the boys’ and help to actively challenge the long established gender stereotypes within STEM – this applies not just in relation to the renewable energy sector but across ALL sectors of the economy.