Role Models Matter
If we don’t see people like us, we don’t always want to hang around or feel in the right place, our place, included. We need role models in life to help show us the way and the art of the possible. We know the importance of role modelling in childhood and learnt behaviours, but it is also important for women to have great role models in business too. Seeing role models can have such an impact on women.
Role models matter, particularly for women.
Research in the US* shows that role models have an amplified benefit for women due to the gender biases, institutional barriers and negative stereotypes women have long had to contend with across a wide swathe of professions.
In our sector we only 19% of the workforce being women^ we don’t have enough role models. And let’s be clear I am not saying we don’t have any, or questioning the impact and value of the one’s we have. We simply don’t have enough to create the change impact we need to grow gender balance in utilities quicker.
In 2022 I chaired @Marketforces Future of Utilities event in London. The event was on International Women’s Day and it was a great opportunity to be on stage on such a day and open the event recognising the day and the importance of women in the sector. The attendance at the event was 23% women, so better than the 19% working in the sector, but we know there is still more to do.
A couple of weeks ago I attended Marketforce’s Energy Transition Summit in Amsterdam. Joining a wide selection of people and companies all focussed on the energy transition and how we achieve it. There was even a session focused on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) in driving and delivering the transition. The event felt positive in many ways as you hear what companies are doing far and wide to ensure supply and ensure a renewable supply too. But it also felt more balanced. It felt like there were more women at the event and more women (role models) speaking. There were! 34% of the people at the event were women. Are we seeing change? Was this just a European thing? Maybe it was the topic or the timing or location? We simply don’t know, but I do take it as a positive.
If we are going to encourage women into the utilities sector, to stay in the sector and to thrive here we need to continue to see and hear from women role models.
In short, seeing is believing to quote, Dr Nina Ansary who wrote in Anonymous Is A Woman, a compelling chronicle of global gender inequality that features extraordinary women throughout history whose names you’ve likely never heard of (but probably should have!)
Role models have three core benefits for women; they represent and expand what is possible; they inspire women to be more ambitious and aim higher; they demonstrate the mindsets and behaviours of how to rise.
We can all be role models. We can all help those around us and those who follow in our footsteps. Next time you are asked to be on a panel, say yes (and invite another woman to join you!). Next time you are asked to write and article, record a podcast, say yes. And most importantly next time you are asked to mentor aspiring talent, say yes!
Hayley Monks, WUN Co-Founder.