Minister for Women’s Employment welcomes SSE STEM plans on wind farm visit

Annabelle Ewing (centre) with Nicki Small and Claire McKeown at Gordonbush wind farm in Sutherland.
Annabelle Ewing (centre) with Nicki Small and Claire McKeown at Gordonbush wind farm in Sutherland.

Annabelle Ewing, Scottish Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, has visited an SSE wind farm to hear how the energy firm is encouraging more women to consider a career in engineering.

Gordonbush is an operational 35 turbine wind farm near Brora in Sutherland. The Perth-based company plans to build a 16-turbine extension nearby.

Ewing met with Nicki Small, Development Project Manager for SSE Renewables, and Claire McKeown, Noise Manager, who shared their experiences of working in the energy sector and the opportunities for women in what has traditionally been a male dominated industry.

She was encouraged to visit SSE during a parliamentary exchange on women in the energy sector with Rob Gibson, MSP (SNP – Caithness, Sutherland and Ross).

John Stewart, SSE’s Director of HR, said: “We’re always looking to attract more female engineers and apprentices so we are delighted to have 10 joining our ranks this year, which is a step in the right direction. We know we have a lot more work to do, but the building blocks are now in place.

Ewing said: “The careers available in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are many and varied, providing incredible opportunities in Scotland and around the world. They are a vital industry stream and underpin our economy which is why it is so important for government and employers to showcase them to young people.

“The spotlight that SSE is shining on this field is a wonderful way of encouraging more women into the field and to celebrate role models like Nicki and Claire. It’s also a great opportunity to hear about the different ways into science and engineering roles and the promotion and progression they offer.”

Small joined SSE in 1996 after completing an honours degree in Environmental Technology. Her career has included renewable energy price forecasting, wind resource monitoring, business development, project management and more recently environmental engineering.

Having been appointed a project manager in onshore wind development in 2012, she is now responsible for gaining planning consent for a number of onshore wind farms, including the Gordonbush Extension.

She said: “It was a pleasure to welcome to the minister to Gordonbush wind farm, guide her around the site and explain my role at SSE.

“I have had a diverse and varied career with SSE and I would encourage more women to consider a career in the energy industry – particularly on our apprenticeship and training programmes.”

Claire McKeown has worked with SSE since 2008 and is currently a Noise Manager within SSE’s Wholesale division. She helps develop every phase of a wind farm’s life – from development through to construction and operation.


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