As the energy sector continues to evolve, practitioners and academics are working to solve some of the most difficult challenges of our time. The sector needs a diverse talent pool, capable of bringing innovative and fresh perspectives to confront the disruptive challenges that lie ahead. Increasingly, women are taking on active roles in the energy sector using their knowledge and experiences to impact the competitiveness and future of the sector. However, statistics show that women only represent between 8% -15% of the total workforce in the European energy sector. Most women perform administrative and sales roles, with very few women employed in senior and mid-management positions. Efforts to address this gender disparity have been minimal. In fact, Ernst and Young report only a 1% increase in female leadership over the past three years.
This problem goes beyond the workplace and is visible at conferences and events where all male panels are the norm. In an interview with the Guardian, Dr Susanne Nies, Corporate Affairs Manager at ENTSO-E and former Head of Unit Energy Policy for EURELECTRIC, shared her experience: “Recently, I was at a conference in Berlin that opened with ‘Dear Dr Nies, dear gentlemen’. We need to change that for the next generation.” Concrete steps must be taken to diversify representation and remove barriers to career advancement in the energy sector.
The Florence School of Regulation aims to take positive steps towards addressing women’s presence in the sector by launching a new initiative – “Lights on Women” – to further enhance economically and socially sound energy policy and regulation. The FSR “Lights on Women” initiative will act as a platform to shine a light on women’s expertise, publications, projects, and professional achievements, making their contributions visible to the energy policy community. It will identify and promote women working within the energy sector to enable them to develop their professional profile and access energy experts in Europe and worldwide.
Only with an intellectually diverse community can we continue to deliver innovative thinking and advance the open exchange of ideas and strategic dialogue on energy regulation and policy. The “Lights on Women” initiative intends to raise awareness and increase collaboration within and among organisations to support a cultural change within the energy sector.