Gender imbalances in the energy sector affect women at different levels, with one of the key imbalances being disproportionate access to mentors – women tend to have less access to mentors than men.
Keeping in mind that it has been proven that a personal relationship with a mentor yields demonstrable professional benefits, this absence can lead to a significant disadvantage in a woman’s career.
At the same time, the low recruitment and retention rates in STEM careers for women can be connected to the lack of appropriate women role models and mentors resulting in alienation from these disciplines.
The creation of an adequate mentoring programme can, therefore, be seen as a way to support women engaged in the energy sector, in both STEM and non-STEM areas (for more details read the brand new GWNET Study “Women for Sustainable Energy”).
With this in mind, the People-Centred Accelerator (PCA) Mentoring Programme, co-organised by the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), is designed to accelerate the careers of women in junior/middle management positions in energy access, support their pathway to leadership positions and foster a global network of mentorship, knowledge-sharing and empowerment.
The mentoring programme which began in January 2020 focuses on four sub-Saharan African countries – Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zambia, with a total of 15 mentees determined to forge the networks and build the skills and knowledge, necessary to boost their career and increase their impact in the sustainable energy sector.
For example, one participant from Kenya has the goal of finding “a community of women in the energy field amongst the mentees and the mentors with whom I can learn from and bounce off ideas, concepts and collaborate on solutions that would address our regional/ country-specific challenges, particularly from a gender perspective.”
Additionally, a participant from Ghana has stated that “there are very few women in energy. Although I have been working in the industry for some 5 years I still feel that I lack enough training and skills to progress in my career. This programme provides the best opportunity to meet mentors who can provide me with the support needed to propel my career in energy.”
To this end, each participant has been matched with an experienced mentor and has begun regular exchange based on mutually agreed targets.
On their part, the mentors are senior professionals in the energy sector, determined to share their skills, expertise, and networks, to help advance and support the professional development of their mentee. Not only do they get the chance to make a difference and have a positive impact on a younger woman’s career in the energy sector, but they also have the opportunity to expand their own knowledge through their mentees’ perspective.
Furthermore, the beginning of March ushered in the first two webinars on the topics of “Personal Development & Branding” and “Energizing Finance,” focused on supporting participants abilities to present themselves and their work confidently within the sector and providing concrete evidence of financial flows for sustainable energy access respectively.
These knowledge transfer webinars are part of a webinar series (with topics chosen by the participants of the programme) designed to increase the technical knowledge of participants and boost their awareness, identity, talent, and potential, in order to bring them closer to actualising their dreams and aspirations.
As we move forward with this programme, we look forward to sharing stories and success of participants as they work fearlessly towards their goals.