Energy pundits demand regulation on gender diversity

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Professionals and technocrats in the energy industry have demanded government to evolve deliberate policies for gender balancing and diversity in the management and boards of public and private entities in the Nigerian corporate community, arguing that enhanced gender parity would accelerate Nigeria’s quest for resource diversification in the sector.

* Some WIEN members physically in attendance

In achieving gender balance in the energy sector, panel discussants at the Energy Sustainability Conference hosted by the Energy Institute of Nigeria (EIN) in collaboration with Women in Energy Network (WIEN) in Lagos agreed that government should enact a legislation that not only promotes women education but also pave the pave the way for their career advancement.

They hammered on the need for a policy that deepens gender equality across full spectrum of education, skills and capacity development as well as assumption of strategic roles in corporate governance. The goal, according to them, is not just to tap the immense potentials and genius of the female proportion of the Nigerian capacity but also alter the tradition of limiting women to soft corporate roles.

The Energy Sustainability Conference was conceived as a hybrid virtual and in-person policy debate to amplify the first Annual General Meeting of the WIEN, the foremost non-profit organization supporting STEM education for girl child as practical contribution to promoting all gender capacity for Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

The call for gender balancing follows appalling data indicating that the workforce in the energy sector has a significant gender gap with only inconsequential number of women in the traditional energy sector and in the renewable energy industry. And the conference seeks to explore how women can contribute meaningfully to the growth and development in the energy sector.

The session, moderated by Wola Joseph, was peopled with Oghogho Makinde, Temilade Denton,Chinenye Ajayi, and Efro Nwakuche as discussants.

The panel regretted that the prevailing gender imbalance in the leadership of corporate organizations might continue to entrench with the lingering apathy towards the female genius in the country. They called on corporate organizations in the country to also demonstrate commitment to deliberate gender diversification in their governance structures.

The need for closing gender gaps in the industry, they pointed out, has become urgent in the foreground of the global movement towards energy diversification from traditional sources. The panelists stressed that women professionals currently form part of the critical drivers of innovation in the emerging pathway to cleaner energy.

According to research data cited at the event which held at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, initial findings led to the conclusion that companies with more women on their board of directors are more likely to invest in renewable power generation, mitigate climate change and proactively address environmental concerns.

Speaking on the theme:  the Role of Corporate Women and SMEs in Driving the Energy Transition, all the discussants agreed that women hold immense potentials to catalyze positive disruption in the Nigerian energy industry, pointing at research findings indicating that a diversified workforce delivers better results on increased creativity, innovation, decision-making and commercial margins.

In dwelling on the problem, the speakers noted that multiple factors hinder women development in higher education or reaching leadership positions.

In helping women step up for greater job roles in the energy industry, the conference called for policy palliatives that would dismantle cultural stereotypes and inequalities against women in science and technical education. They also demanded recruitment quotas for qualified women who seek entry into technically inclined industries.

 Although there have been improvements in numbers, the panelists noted that gender parity is not yet a reality and leadership positions are still ruled by men in the energy sector.

In dwelling on cultural and traditional barriers to women advancement in industry careers, the conference recognized that maternal and household roles and lack of women friendly work facilities limit time for activities required for upward mobility into leadership positions.

To improve number of women pursuing science and technology courses, the panel also urged the tertiary institutions in the country to assist with exploring funding interventions for gender-specific education, including potential partnerships for supporting female students taking science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.

In directly addressing the women, the discussants urged them to deliberately aspire for greater positions in the energy sector. they stressed that entry level and executive level employees in the industry must aspire for growth through the enhancement of their knowledge, skills and task delivery capacity.

To break into the energy sector, they pointed out, women must equip themselves in STEM education in order to qualify for opportunities in the industry and aspire for higher positions.

“There is the need behavioral change on the part women. They should cease from the habit of aspiring to careers they think are best suited for women such as nursing, secretarial and front desk jobs,” the panelists pointed out.

In sum, the panelists noted that whereas the quotient of women in corporate leadership in the industry is improving, the numbers are still not satisfactory.

The conference called on government to step in with policies that deepen gender equality by coming up with a legislation that not only promotes women education but also paves the way for their career advancement.

The forum suggested the establishment of funding facilities for girls’ STEM education and regulatory support for all gender career progression at corporate organizations in the industry.

The conference also recognized the need for sustained advocacy and enlightenment programmes for mentoring female students that study engineering in the universities. The goal is to inform them of the opportunities that await them in the energy sector. 

It also recognized the need for establishment of data base for qualified female engineers as a pool for filling opportunities in the energy sector.

Source: WIEN DIGEST

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