The importance of providing support to attract more young women into the energy sector was highlighted during a webinar hosted by Masdar’s outreach platform, WiSER (Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy), at the Middle East Energy conference in Dubai.
Organized by members of the WiSER Pioneers Program, the session was moderated by Fatima Al Kaabi, Associate – International Affairs, ADGM. Panelists were: Asmae Azzioui, Sites Prospecting and Resources Forecasting Engineer, Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen), Aya Shiraz AlMasri, Process Simulation Specialist, ADNOC Refining, and Yara Tannoury, Sales & Proposals Manager – Energy, Tractebel Engineering – Engie.
The panelists discussed the current representation of females employed in the energy sector, which according to the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA), stands at just 22 percent in the traditional energy sector workforce and 32 percent in the renewable energy workforce.
Yara highlighted research from McKinsey which states that in a “full potential” scenario in which women play an identical role in labour markets to men, as much as US$28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to global annual GDP by 2025, adding that “this alone is enough to bridge the climate finance gap needed to fund the battle against climate change... so I see that a big element of the solution is right infront of our eyes – but we just need to take more action on that.”
Despite the low representation of women across the board in the enery sector, the panelists noted that variances in gender equality do occur across geographies and companies. The UAE, for instance, has made it mandatory for listed companies to have at least one woman director on their boards.
Aya said that her team at ADNOC Refining is made up of 60 percent women, and for leadership positions in ADNOC, 17 percent are held by women.
Asmae, in turn, highlighed the progressive gender parity initiatives of her employer, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen). She said: “At Masen, as a responsible employer, the position of women is present at all levels of the organization, and around 45 percent of the workforce are women, with 40 percent of the executive committee led by women, and 30 percent of managers are also women.”
The panelists discussed the power of female industry role models in inspiring more women to seek careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) fields, but also the need to ensure that once women gain employment, they are able to progress their careers. Aya said: “We need to have the corporate responsibility that companies need to undertake in order to facilitate environments that attract women but also retain them.”
Women empowerment programs such as WiSER are providing an “enabling” and “nurturing” environment for women to pursue careers in energy, said Yara, who is also a member of the World Energy Council’s Future Energy Leaders (FEL) platform, adding: “Such platforms also play an important role in bringing women together to share thoughts, ideas, opinions, but just as importantly, to share fears or challenges. During these last couple of months I have really developed a sense of connection and empathy with my fellow Pioneers when they speak about their experiences.”
The panelists also debated the skills and support women will need over the next decade to adapt to the evolving work landscape, noting Masdar’s Future Skills 2030 report and the impact of increased digitalization and the climate crisis on the nature of work in the industry.
They agreed that women will need to continue to cultivate adaptability, agility, resilience, and digital literacy enveloped by ongoing support from public and private sector entities and charities if they are to continue to flourish and increase their representation in the workforce.
WiSER is supported by Principal Partner Abu Dhabi Global Market.
Watch the full session here.