Women in Renewables mastermind and organiser Alicia Webb said much needs to be done before women achieve equitable representation in the renewables sector.
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) held its second Women in Renewables lunch at All-Energy 2015, building on the success of its inaugural event at the Clean Energy Summit in July.
“You may have noticed a gender balance in the opening plenary session i.e. 100 per cent suits. The CEC is committed to having no all-male panels at its next event,” Ms Webb said.
A panel of speakers comprising the below industry people went on to discuss personal challenges and milestones:
Kate Auty, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and former Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability
Miles George, Managing Director of Infigen Energy and Chair of the CEC
Miwa Tominaga, Sales Coordinator at Fronius and award winner at the 2014 Clean Energy Council Solar Design and Installation Awards.
Although Ms Tominaga said she had been largely supported in her various jobs, she faced her worst instance of gender discrimination during an onsite visit.
“A women said to me, “˜don’t take this the wrong away, but do you know what you’re doing?’ I felt like saying: I’ve fixed more circuit boards than you’ve had chicken dinners.”
Mr George was forthright about how Infigen Energy could do better in its efforts to promote women and said the renewables sector is in a unique position to take advantage of this.
“We’ve got the capability to build our industry as gender diverse, unlike the fossil fuel industry. One of the key things we can do is report against gender diversity targets in annual reports open to the public.
“Reporting and owning up to past failures on what we haven’t achieved is key to gender diversity.”
Mr George said men have to be champions of change in strong and meaningful ways, and referred them on to a handy guide published by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
“If you are genuinely a male champion of change, why would you appear on an all-male panel? Bring it up with the organisers or stand aside so a woman can take your place.”
Ms Auty implored women to celebrate their successes openly and wholeheartedly.
“Play to your strengths; it’s your gender. Walk through every door. Nominate your female colleagues. Nominate yourself. Take over.
“If you don’t put yourself out there, no one will tap you on the shoulder no matter how good you are.”