Wind turbines, renewable energy, windmills in the ocean

The importance of female role models in the renewable energy sector

Wind turbines, renewable energy, windmills in the ocean

It’s vital to have inspirational female role models in the renewable energy sector, not just to help talented women advance their careers in this industry, but also to safeguard the future for generations to come.

All hands are needed on deck to achieve NET Zero, which means it’s crucial to draw from all talent pools, across all demographics, to unite towards a common goal.

It’s one thing to preach this, but it’s essential that this is put into practice in a constructive way. SunGift Solar are a solar PV, EV charger, and solar battery storage installer, who have gender equality and representation at the forefront of their minds. The women in SunGift are instrumental to its day-to-day running, including the deployment of large, ground-breaking, and exciting national projects. In our current climate, with soaring energy costs and the threat of global warming looming, the work they do could not be more important.

Out of SunGift Solar’s three directors, two are female. These are two women at the top of their professions in renewable energy: Beth and Helen.

Beth is SunGift’s Managing Director, joining SunGift in 2017, having previously worked as a solicitor specialising in the commercial side of renewable energy. Beth focuses on the internal working of the company, including management and HR.

Helen Sungift solarHelen is the Operations Director, overseeing the project management and installation side of SunGift. Helen initially trained as a scientist, achieving a PHD in paleoclimatology (the study of climate change throughout the Earth’s different geologic ages). She then went on to work in a community energy group based in Plymouth, notably developing a community ground mount array on an ex-landfill site.

Aligning with their company’s ethos, Beth and Helen are advocates for increasing female representation in their sector. While the office staff is very balanced in terms of gender, Helen has remarked that she’s very keen to get more women ‘on the tools’, carrying out installations both on domestic homes and commercial projects.

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Beth Sungift solarBeth skillfully juggles motherhood with a busy and fulfilling career. This balance is one that many women have to strike. Beth’s advice for women in a similar situation is: ‘balancing a career with family can be hard, either one on their own can be as exhausting as they are rewarding! For me, accepting support is vital. The phrase “it takes a village” really works for me as, with enough support to allow me to work in the week, I can then enjoy family time at weekends.  I think the dividing line between working and family life is increasingly blurred and Covid-induced home schooling has brought this to the forefront. It can be negative if your work impinges too much on family time but breaking down barriers here can be great, for example if your employer offers you greater flexibility during school holidays or home working when children are sick. For me, it highlights the importance of seeing those you work with in a rounded light as humans with a life outside of work. I think people increasingly value that”

For women entering STEM workplaces, Helen advises to not let other people’s assumptions set you off course. If you are the recipient of baseless doubts in your abilities from preconceived stereotypes, Helen advises to not be afraid to assert yourself (in a respectful and measured way) and says you should never play down your abilities.

Beth has ensured SunGift is an environment that is not a barrier to women in renewable energy achieving their full potential, but rather somewhere where the conditions are right for all individuals to flourish. Beth explains the why diversity is important to her: “diversity is brilliant as it helps to foster differing viewpoints. Its important not to play into stereotypes so, for me, it’s about working with and employing people with a range of experiences and backgrounds regardless of gender, as each person can then bring something different to the table.”

The contributions of women in the renewable energy  sector are nothing new, women, such as Maria Telkes who created the first solar-powered home heating system, have often taken the reins with renewables. However, the time is now to ensure our futures are green. Getting as many talented people on board as possible will certainly help secure this.