On International Women’s Day, the UN underscores the correlation between two of the great transformative movements of this century: the energy transition and the advancement of women towards true equality. This year’s theme, “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”, highlights the role of women as effective leaders and drivers of change in the face of the climate emergency.
We repeatedly affirm that this has to be a just and inclusive transition, leaving no one behind, and we think about jobs, the impact on industries, on those regions most affected… And so it is, but we must not forget, and I think that sometimes we do not keep in mind, that the energy transition will only be just if it brings greater diversity and equal opportunities for women and men.
Moving towards a more sustainable and carbon neutral model is everyone’s task, men and women. As is accelerating the steps towards gender equality. The economic situation is not making things very easy for us: the ClosingGap Index shows that the pandemic has increased the gender gap in Spain by almost one point, growing to 36.7% in 2021, and pushing the horizon for full parity to 2058.
Women playing a leading role in the energy transition can be an important way to contribute to tackling inequality. But, how can they access this leadership role?
Firstly, by being more present in the technical and scientific fields, for which it is necessary to promote training in STEM careers. Although it is one of the sectors with the best future prospects and greatest employability, I am concerned that engineering continues to be one of the fields with the lowest female presence, at around 25%. Decarbonisation can be an opportunity to reposition engineering from an almost purely industrial approach to a more attractive and inclusive one, highlighting its ability to transform society and contribute to sustainability and people’s well-being.
Engineering requires female talent, and to attract it, we need to encourage vocations, eliminate biases and stereotypes, make female referents visible… Enagás employs magnificent professionals who are increasingly specialised in technical areas, also at management levels. These days we can listen to several of them in the campaign #EllasTeLoCuentan (#TheyTellYou). Their stories are an example for colleagues in the company and the industry, as well as for young students who are encouraged to follow in their footsteps.
The power of women to build their careers should not lead us to place all the responsibility for the path to equality on their shoulders. Choosing STEM careers, freeing oneself from the so-called imposter syndrome and not self-limiting is all very well and necessary, but it is not enough. Through an article in the Financial Times I learned about the book Confidence Culture, which warns of the trap of considering that inequality is mainly due to a lack of self-confidence or self-esteem on the part of women, ignoring the structural obstacles they still have to face.
This is not an individual problem, but a collective one, and companies, as key players in social transformation, have an important responsibility in solving it. First and foremost that requires truly betting on diversity and inclusion, something I spoke about a few months ago trying to provide some practical guidelines for its implementation.
At Enagás, we take on this responsibility. We are moving towards a decarbonised future, with new vectors such as green hydrogen or biomethane, and for this we need the finest talent. For years we have been incorporating, promoting their development and offering opportunities to women who want to work in the energy sector and contribute to that future. That is why we are the first company in the Utilities sector in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, which evaluates us in female leadership and talent pipeline, gender equality and pay parity, inclusive culture, policies against sexual harassment, and institutional support for women.
Of course, beyond the collective, there are individual gestures that count for a lot. Recently the First Vice President of the Spanish Government and Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, stated that she would never again have her picture taken or participate in a debate in which she was the only woman. A gesture and commitment that did not go unnoticed and that shows how to contribute to change through example.
It is the task of each and every one of us to continue moving forward. Only with the full participation of women in companies, in the energy sector and in the decarbonisation process will we truly achieve a just and inclusive energy transition and a sustainable future for society as a whole.