How Does Gender Equality Impact Mexico's Energy Transition?Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:49
Although women are increasingly entering the industrial field, their presence is still low. Although the World Development Report highlights that having more women in the industry enhances productivity, advances development outcomes and makes institutions more representative, on a global level women make up for only 30 percent of the industrial workforce. We asked women that are already present in the industry what is the role does gender equality play in Mexico’s energy transition, what challenges have to be yet faced, and how are they being overcome.
Gender equality creates diversity, which enriches professional environments and decision-making processes, leading to better outcomes. It therefore does not only benefit Mexico’s energy transition but its economy and society in general. Access to education in STEM areas, flexibility in the workplace and with business hours must be addressed to allow more women to enter the energy sector. Most issues improve when communication is fluid and flexibility is favored. Fortunately, there is a growing network of women who are deeply committed to helping each other and who are clearing the path for younger generations of women to work in the energy sector. Gender equality is not only about women, it is also about men. If men are not encouraged to take advantage of flexibility and enjoy the same benefits women have and vice versa, gender equality will remain an aspiration and not a reality.
It is through the joint talent of men and women that we can bring balance to Mexico’s energy transition and sustainable future. As a woman in the energy sector, I bring a creative and long-term vision where not only the results but also any collateral effect are considered to create win-win situations. Women have the same ability as men to use their talent for the benefit of Mexico’s energy transition, and although our industry is creating opportunities, regardless of gender, there are few places that demystify the role of women in society and allow them to sit in a decision-making chair. We are in an extremely significant transitional period, and it is important to help women rise to those positions. Women in the energy sector need confidence in their competitiveness, because when a person knows where to go, all the doors are open.
Gender equality is key for the development of every aspect of our society. This also is true for the energy transition. Having talented women as leaders in the public and private sectors will ensure that the energy transition has a wider focus and impact. Gender equality is entrenched in the Energy Transition Special Program 2016-2018 published by the Ministry of Energy. Public policies like these can be transferred to public and private institutions to create programs aiming to promote gender equality, such as the Network of Women in Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (REDMEREE), which is supported by GIZ, CITRUS and 47 other leading institutions. As part of REDMEREE, CITRUS is a key driver in promoting the development and certification of more women in the industry and attracting newer generations of women to REDMEREE to boost their professional development.
The energy transition cannot succeed without the involvement of women. Although we are witnessing more participation of women in important roles in the industry, we must admit that they are not yet being offered the same opportunities. We need to work on providing equal rights for all. Slowly but surely institutions are giving more attention and protection to women who raise their voices, and this is helping educate and encourage new generations of both women and men to collaborate and work together. Initiatives such as MERM are breaking paradigms and encouraging women to show their capabilities. Associations like this are key to creating synergies and connecting the dots that will bring more empowered women into the energy sector. I consider the creation of MERM one of my biggest personal contributions to Mexico’s gender equality equation.
The participation of women in the energy sector is becoming more important and is growing every year. The fact that the energy industry is an engine that drives the country’s economy makes the need for gender equality even more important. Today, there are more women in all of the working fields related to energy, from banking and the revision of legal aspects of the projects to implementing them in the technology or operational elements. This is due to the fact that women are now more qualified and competitive. But we still have a long way to go to reach full gender equality. It is nevertheless encouraging to see that women are also starting to fill more decision-making and C-level positions, providing the sector with a wider vision of what the country needs.
The energy transition requires the best and brightest talent in the country to be engaged in the process. There are many capable and talented women but unfortunately, they are often not given the same visibility as their male counterparts. Gender equality is imperative because it means that the best talent will reach its full potential for the benefit of the industry. An important area that needs work is an improvement in the primary or basic education to make sure that cultural biases are not reinforced in schools. The energy sector is complex and challenging, making it a very interesting industry in which to work. I was attracted to it because it allows me to give people access to clean, efficient, reliable and safe energy. My added value to the industry as a woman is to identify commercial opportunities and to work in a culturally sensitive and effective manner.
If women are able to reach more decision-making positions driven by their dreams and the belief of them being able to reach them, a more enriching vision will be reached in all areas of life. Diversity and gender equality is a key theme for ABB, and we are making concerted efforts to address it. We support women’s forums in the country, and are working on the development of catalysts. For us, a catalyst is an empowered man that can drive a cultural change for the benefit of diversity and gender equality. This opens the discussion beyond having just more women in the workplace, but actually empowering them and allowing them to be complete equals. Diversity and gender equality is much more than numbers; it is about changing the way we think. With catalysts and other similar initiatives, at ABB we have managed to reach gender equality not only in numbers but in culture.