Around the world, women are significantly under-represented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
According to statistics from the US department of labour, women account for just 26 per cent of the country’s STEM professionals.
In the United Kingdom, it is a similar story – less than a fifth of STEM professionals are women, with comparably low rates in other large economies.
As governments explore ways to close this critical gap, the UAE is steadily developing a generation of Emirati women that will help to drive the country’s innovation-led economy of the future.
The representation of Emirati women in STEM programmes at UAE universities already exceeds the international average. In addition, the number of Emirati women joining the workforce as engineers and scientists has risen significantly in the last few years. Masdar is eager to support this development.
Nour Al Maskari, Head of Strategic Human Capital at Masdar, said: “An increasing number of women are now interested in pursuing a career in the sustainability and renewable energy sectors.
“Masdar is supporting their development by launching a number of initiatives designed to empower women to succeed and to actively address energy and climate change challenges. These initiatives are allowing them to contribute to innovation in policymaking, technology development, and entrepreneurship – to ensure a more sustainable future for all.”
“Over 20 per cent of the leadership positions at Masdar are held by women,” Al Maskari added. “We also have a significant number of women participating in the company's year-round career development programmes. These include the Pioneers of Success Programme, in which Masdar and Harvard Business Publishing are developing the skills of 25 mid-level managers through workshops and seminars focusing on best business practices and strategic thinking.”
Providing opportunities for Emirati women within the clean energy sector
Following in the legacy of the UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who supported the empowerment of women and encouraged their participation across all sectors, the mother of the nation Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of the General Women's Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has dedicated 28 August each year as a day to celebrate Emirati women and acknowledge their important role in society.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, believes that empowering women is not only the right thing to do, but also a clear business opportunity.
“According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the number of jobs in the energy sector is expected to grow from 10.3 million in 2017 to nearly 29 million by 2050,” he said. “Masdar is actively supporting the integration of Emirati women into the renewable energy and sustainability sectors.”
Further evidence of this is Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER), a Masdar-led, impact-focused platform dedicated to inspiring women and girls to play an active role in addressing global sustainability challenges.
The platform was founded on the three pillars of education, engagement and empowerment, and strives to position women and girls of all nationalities as drivers of change and innovation.
Commenting on the importance of WiSER in the context of Emirati Women’s Day, Dr Lamya Nawaf Fawwaz, Executive Director of Brand and Strategic Initiatives at Masdar and Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said: “Emirati Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate the unprecedented achievements of UAE women. Since its inception, Masdar has actively encouraged the direct involvement of women in the sustainability sector through a diversity of education, mentorship and career opportunities – as well as through platforms such as WiSER, whose annual forum convenes each Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, and the year-long WiSER Pioneers Programme, which is aimed at graduates and young professionals.”
“Inspired by the UAE leadership, Masdar is striving with its partners to help empower young Emirati female leaders to deliver on the sustainability agenda of the UAE and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” Dr Fawwaz said.
A diversity of opportunities
This year’s celebration is held under the theme ‘Women, Icons of Tolerance,’ which recognises the role of Emirati women in society and their efforts towards the diversification, economic growth and advancement of the UAE’s strategic goals.
Masdar’s mandate aligns with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy through building human capital.
Zainab Al Ali, Senior Manager, Outreach and Stakeholder Relations at Masdar, said: “UAE women have been empowered by the unwavering support of the leadership, who have allowed us to play an active role in the advancement of our beloved country and the realisation of a sustainable future for all.”
Aysha Alaydaroos, Business Support Manager, Clean Energy at Masdar passionately agrees.
“I am proud to be an Emirati working in the renewable energy sector. This has been supported by the efforts of Masdar to empower and provide opportunities for Emirati women to use their knowledge and skills to advance the sector.”
“From a personal perspective, Masdar has given me the opportunity to support one of its key functions in the organisation, to participate in its pursuit of world-class solar and wind energy projects in new markets such as East Asia and to represent Masdar in official UAE missions. This is because of the belief that Masdar has in its female Emirati employees, their abilities and their dedication to sustainability and innovation,” she added.
Amna Al Zaabi, Analyst in Design Management, Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar, joined the company after completing her bachelor degree in civil engineering followed by her master’s degree in urban planning. She is a member of the Emerging Leaders – Inspiring Youth programme, a Masdar initiative that prepares junior staff for leadership positions.
She is excited about what the future holds.
“I am proud to be involved in the development of Masdar City, one of the world’s most sustainable urban developments. I am looking forward to sharing my sustainability knowledge with many other UAE nationals as they enter the sustainability sector.”
“It’s is an exciting time to be a woman at Masdar,” she concluded.