The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) on Island Energy launched its Women in Island Energy Leadership Network on 25 February 2016, through a webinar with over a hundred registered viewers. The network is an initiative aimed at supporting women’s empowerment in the energy sector through a “women for women platform”, where women will mentor and be mentored.
The network aims to harness the knowledge and experiences of female leaders in energy towards developing the leadership potential of other female energy employees in the island nations. The Women in Island Energy Leadership Network was established to address the low representation of women professionals in the energy sector, particularly at the executive level.
The personal experiences shared by the discussants revealed the importance of the following, as key points for women’s advancement in the male dominated world of the energy sector.
- Mentorship: Simply put, you need to have someone looking out for you in your organization. And this can be a male or female colleague (yes, men do help women advance in their careers). Your mentor is someone with more years of experience than you. So, he or she has been there and done that. Such a person will be in a good position to tell you the pitfalls to avoid and the tactics for getting that edge.
- Role model: Chelsea Clinton made an important remark about the dangers of an ‘imagination gap’, which mainly arises due to the lack of women professionals at the executive level and, translates into, fewer options of role models to look up to. Personally, I do not think this is a bad thing (since we cannot overnight increase the number of women in key decision-making roles) considering the influence fathers have on their daughters. If there aren’t that many female executives to look up to, feel free to pick a male whose character and success you admire.
- Family support: Fathers supporting their daughters. Husbands supporting their wives. Breaking the glass ceiling is doable when you have that loved one telling you “you are unstoppable”. One of the speakers talked about how her father’s unshaking believe in her capacity gave her the drive and passion to succeed. From our experience with running the #STANDTALL campaign we can tell you this is true.
- Constructive criticisms: Maybe you have heard this: your tone of voice isn’t right; you could do better with the way you dress; you are too ambitious and bossy. If you have, Chelsea says: you need to listen to serious criticisms from serious people, those who are interested in your growth and not those who are just trying to put you down (according to her, an advice which her mum, Hillary, gave her). So, next time you get one of those comments designed to put you down don’t waste your energy on it.
- It pays to be bold: Let’s say there is an opportunity to work on a job you are not exactly familiar with, a very new area for you. Do you take it or leave it? On-the-job training (OJT), or something I like to call ‘learning as you go’, exists and you should take of advantage of it. Women need to be bolder, dishing away the fear of being ridiculed for not getting it right (even though we are more likely to be judged more harshly than men if we fail). A piece of advice, whether you are a man or women, at certain stages in your career, life will throw at you something new. The more times you are able to familiarize yourself with those new things, the more experiences you would have and the more knowledgeable you would be, thanks to those experiences. If you want to be experienced, don’t just wait for life to throw something new at you. Instead, go for it.
Are there others, in general, we have left out? Let’s hear from you.