Women's Whole Energy Systems Research and Industry Network (Werin) – We’re in!

04 Oct 2018

Ever wondered why there aren’t more women working, innovating and researching in the energy sector? 

It is something that I’ve wondered on occasion when attending energy sector events and find women greatly outnumbered by the men. It is an especially relevant question when we consider who has been ask to contribute as a speaker and find they are all male. The contributors and events are still engaging but I still can’t help but think we are missing a trick by not making sure we include an equal number of female voices to the debate.

In my experience, there are some parts of the energy sector that seem to be more representative than others. For example, community energy, fuel poverty alleviation research and, to some extent, the renewable energy sector all seem to represent more of a cross section of society, but still not quite attaining gender parity levels of participation. But it is markedly worse when it comes to the utility sector for energy networks and energy generation. Here the vast majority of engineering, economics, policy and regulatory personnel are male.

But there are some great examples of women excelling in the energy sector! But who? And where? And how can we encourage the sector to be more inclusive?

Project scope

At the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), we aim to make inclusion a driving principle of our Centre. And to that end, we bid for and won funding support from the UK Energy Research Centre’s Whole Systems Networking Fund (WSNF). Funded by EPSRC, the WSNF aims to improve equality, communications and collaboration between those working in the field of whole systems energy.

With my Co-investigator, Dr Sara Walker, we put together a proposal (with support from CESI and Newcastle University) to develop a UK wide Women's Whole Energy Systems Research and Industry Network (Werin – pronounced we’re in!).

Dr Sara Walker

Sara herself is a female leader in a male-dominated subject area. As Associate Director of CESI, Deputy Director of Supergen Energy Networks Hub and Director of Expertise for Infrastructure at the Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, Sara provides a great example of leadership to the women within the energy research sector and Werin.

Women's Whole Energy Systems Research and Industry Network (Werin)

Our aim is to showcase the positive impact that women bring to the Energy Sector. We also aim to provide a collaborative program of interdisciplinary cross-sector networking and showcase opportunities within WERIN.  Plans include: -

  • Actively search for energy researchers, innovators and professionals to join, while opening up membership to the whole female community within the sector
  • Host a number of virtual and physical, inclusive network building events throughout the UK to provide an opportunity for members to meet, showcase their expertise and identify new collaborators and research partners
  • Build a searchable, user-friendly, free-to-use, online, accessible network membership platform that will highlight the skills and research interests of each of the members
  • Showcase the sectors and research fields that have successfully achieved progress in gender parity and learn from their best practice.

Werin will provide ideas to help those areas of the sector that still have opportunity for improvement in female representation. The events will provide a chance to discuss and survey the attendees to gauge the state of sectors and what support and development the members feel that is needed. Werin will partner with energy sector organisations and other women’s energy networks such as Women in Transport to further maximise the reach of the network.

Launch

Werin and its online membership platform will be launched at the Low Carbon Energy Networks conference (LCNI) at the International Conference Centre, Telford on Tuesday 16th October 2018.

Contact  

To contact the organisers or to be one of the first to join the network, please email werin@newcastle.ac.uk

About the Author

Laura, MSc CEng MIET, is the Centre Manager for the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI) led by Newcastle University. An energy sector specialist in policy, renewables and networks, she holds a Masters in Renewable Energy from Newcastle University. Previously Laura worked in Industry as an Energy Consultant specialising in renewable energy systems design and energy systems integration to the grid and buildings.

Twitter: @L_Brown_
Centre Twitter: @CESIenergy