Gender equality in the workplace – Energy Demand in Practice seminar series
By Pamela Fennell, on 8 March 2016
Gender equality in the workplace has been a recurrent theme for Energy Demand in Practice, a student–led seminar series which explores the range of career paths in energy-related industries. Our audiences, aware of historically low rates of female participation in the energy industry have been keen to ask the speakers what it is like in their workplaces and whether they feel opportunities are equal.
Our panel members have covered industry and academia and some have had experience of government roles too. While each speaker’s perspective was slightly different there were some key points that they all agreed on, in particular:
- There is a wide range of talent out there and if employers aren’t tapping into a huge swathe of that then they are missing out.
- Different employers have different cultures and some cultures can be more inclusive than others
- The priority for employers is what skills employees have and it is vitally important that candidates draw on all their experiences to demonstrate that they have the skills that are needed.
Victoria Gay (Engie) and Lynne McDonald (UK Power Networks) both talked about working in environments where they are one of relatively few women but both felt that at times that was something that could be an advantage. Both were also very clear about the importance of negotiating skills when it comes to progressing your career particularly where unconscious biasing may be an issue.
Giorgio and Will both noted the relatively high levels of female participation in academia, something that was evidenced by the gender balance of our audiences but Will raised an important issue about the problems of progression after a career break.
While these are difficult issues that have already been debated for a long time; as Lynne pointed out, employers are increasingly aware of the cost to them of failing to attract the best candidates and are starting to ask what they can do to change – a real opportunity that she urged the audience to seize.
Energy Demand in Practice is a seminar series focussing on the different roles and opportunities available within the energy demand field. The aim of the seminars is to explore the range of career paths that are available to PhD graduates, providing students with inspiration, advice on matters such as workplace skills that might be required, and networking opportunities. The Energy Demand in Practice team currently consists of Virginia Gori, Pamela Fennell and Lisa Iszatt, who set up this series in collaboration with LoLo management at UCL in response to feedback from students that more information was needed on careers in the field of Energy Demand.