GWNET brings you the 2nd instalment of the “Meet the Women in the Energy Transition” series which celebrates the work and achievements of the women who are part of GWNET’s 3/2020 Mentoring Programme. This mentoring programme is made up of 26 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from over 20 countries. Meet GWNET mentee, Bertha Arenivar, an environmental specialist working at LaGeo in El Salvador
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I really love my work because with geothermal energy we understand different sciences like geology, geochemistry, and geophysics. I work on environmental and social studies, and in this area, we get to know about new company projects before they start, which is interesting because of our job of reducing any negative environmental and social impact.
2) What were your goals when you started working in sustainable energy? Have these evolved?
When I started working, my first goal was to learn a lot more about geothermal. Some of the goals we are working on with projects is to reduce negative environmental and social impacts, and support community development. I now work on studying and reviewing environmental and social impacts.
3) What are the opportunities for sustainable energy growth in your country?
More than 60% of the energy produced in the country comes from clean and renewable sources, largely thanks to the “diversification of the nation’s energy matrix” and the development and “introduction of solar, wind, biomass, biogas and hydroelectric energy sources”. In the Geothermal sector, we work with two new projects – Chinameca and San Vicente fields, they could inject 80MW to the national grid.
4) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) this challenge(s)?
I think in my job, the main problem and opportunity to improve on is gender bias. This is because this topic is related to different areas like role models, work-life balance, and family. I think this problem is cultural as we have many problems of gender bias, especially in power plants, where sometimes our coworkers think women are not good at their jobs.
5) Why did you join the GWNET Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
I joined the mentoring programme because I believe that all women have many capacities. I work in the geothermal energy sector, and my career is as a chemical engineer and environmental specialist. Sometimes I work with communities, and among the issues that are often touched on is sustainable development and water, in which women are directly involved. I would like to be able to develop more in these areas and also encourage women in these areas to become interested in technical aspects.
6) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the sustainable energy sector?
The energy sector is really amazing, and geothermal energy especially is very interesting! Women have the relevant capacities to stand out in the sector, including good organisation, conflict resolution, and technical skills. We only need to learn, empower, promote together and form teams with people who support gender equality. Companies also need diverse teams to improve productivity.
Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here.