Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN)
This project brings together people who are interested in improving gender balance and promoting diversity in energy-related matters in the Nordic and Baltic societies. There is a general perception that…
This project brings together people who are interested in improving gender balance and promoting diversity in energy-related matters in the Nordic and Baltic societies. There is a general perception that the Nordic countries have a high level of equality and gender balance in the energy sector, as in many other sectors – but statistics and experiences tell a different story. The aim of NEEN is to highlight these issues and develop tools for improving gender balance and diversity in the energy sector.
The initiative for a Nordic Energy Equality Network came in 2017, when Nordic Energy Research gathered 36 people to identify challenges and come up with solutions to accelerate change and reduce the gender gap in the energy sector and ensure that women’s knowledge and experience will be used efficiently in the future. The participants, coming from academia, energy industry and funding agencies, agreed to start a network for continuing this work.
The Network Taking Shape - Outcomes from 2019 meeting, Oslo
Key members of the Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN) assembled for a two-day meeting in Oslo on April 2nd and 3rd, 2019. The group was made up of women working in the energy sector across the Nordic region, as well as representatives from Nordic Energy Research.
The purpose of the meeting was to gather a “task force” to define the mission of NEEN, decide on the organisational structure of the network and plan future activities.
The group began by mapping the current landscape of women’s organisations in the energy sector in order to determine what NEEN’s place in this landscape should be.
Nanna Baldvinsdóttir – Business Development Manager at Landsvirkjun, Iceland – gave a brief summary of other energy equality organisations, both national and international, and their focus areas. It was noted that organisations for women in energy exist in Iceland and Sweden, but not in the other Nordic countries. Kati Veijonen, Senior Adviser at the Department of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland joined the meeting via Skype to give a presentation on Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Technology Collaboration Program (C3E TCP). Currently Finland and Sweden are the only Nordic member countries of the C3E TCP, but it was noted that Norway might join soon too.
Following this mapping the group turned their focus to brainstorming the goals of NEEN, and the operating and management structure of the network. On April 3rd, having reviewed the notes from the previous day, the participants agreed on a mission statement for the network:
NEEN’s objective is to be the Nordic umbrella for the promotion of gender diversity and empowerment of women, forming a Nordic voice for an inclusive sustainable energy transition.
The task force continued by discussing the operating and management structure of NEEN, to be outlined in the network’s statutes. The group agreed that five Nordic countries should be represented in the steering board, but not be limited to these – representatives from Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland may also be included in the future. It was further decided that one board member from each participating country does not necessarily mean “by nationality.” A member may, for example, represent Denmark even if she’s not Danish.
It was also suggested that the Nordic Energy Equality Network will be officially launched on September 26 at the Vaasa Climate Change and Networking Forum Conference. Suggestions for the topic of NEEN’s session at the conference, such as “local solutions”, “female solutions to climate change challenges” and “innovative and sustainable ways to fight climate change”. More information about the event will follow.
Reducing the gender gap in the energy sector - Outcomes from 2018 Seminar
In order to ensure a more sustainable development in the energy sector, more female values must be included.
This was one of the main conclusions at the annual seminar held by Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN) where professionals in the Nordic energy industry met to discuss action plans, and share experiences and best practices when working for gender diversity.
“I came to this meeting, because after 10 years in the business, it has become clear to me that the diversity level is not what it should be” says Johannah Maher, Vice Director, Head of Global Value Engineering at Vestas, Denmark. Her statement corresponds with many of the 45 other men and women who, along with Maher, participated in the second seminar of the Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN) in Copenhagen, 25-26 September 2018.
For a long time, energy has been an issue which has been handled in business and political contexts. These are areas that traditionally have been dominated by men.
“Energy can be described in very different terms. My research shows that when energy is put into the context of industry it is a very different group of people discussing than when it is put into environmental frames,” says Research Fellow at Swedish Linköbing University Ann-Sofi Kall. “Energy involves so much more than technology and economy. It is a question of who is included, and clearly we need to include the female perspective,” Kall emphasizes.
The female approach is missing
During the seminar Kall’s conclusions were confirmed by other speakers and participants.
“The barrier for a transition to more sustainable renewable energy systems is not lack of technology. It is mindsets, structures and cultures,” Ph.D. candidate at Vaasa University Petra Berg stated.
New technology starts on micro-level with innovations in all kinds of directions, and only a few will reach the macro-level and survive as new paradigms. If a more sustainable transition is desired, the female approach should be present at all stages of innovation. Therefore, Berg emphasizes, gender diversity at all levels will be essential for going in a more sustainable direction.
Even if gender diversity seems crucial it is worth noting that it could be beneficial to take norms into account, instead of focusing on physical gender. One participant, Mehmet Bulut from Swedish Energy Agency, pointed out:
“Maybe the women who make a career in the energy industry today, replicate the habits of their male managers, and it might have to do with typical masculine and feminine norms more than the actual gender.”
Helga Jóhannsdóttir from RARIK – Iceland State Electricity agreed: “It’s an interesting question. I have been in this industry for many years, and all the bosses have been male, so I’ve always worked with men. Maybe you become blind to the existing norms, so female leaders copy male leaders.
See links to presentations from the seminar below, or in the “Downloads & Media” module.
Women in the energy race - Outcomes from 2017 seminar
In November 2017 Nordic Energy Research gathered 36 people, including high profile professionals in the Nordic energy sector, to identify challenges, present solutions to accelerate change and reduce the gender gap in the energy sector, and ensure an efficient use of women’s knowledge and experience in the future. Diversity and gender equality is not an HR issue, it’s a business issue and a performance issue. To only utilize 50 % of the available creative mindpower is a bad business decision for anyone who wants to stay ahead in the energy race.
As in many other sectors, the general impression is that there is a high level of equality and gender balance in the Nordic countries, but statistics and experiences tell a different story. This became, once again, evident at the seminar where the energy industry, funding authorities and academia from the Nordic countries, as well as from Latvia and Lithuania, gathered to discuss the issue.
“This seminar was a good start for the future action and cooperation in order to change the status quo,” said Pirjo Jantunen, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Helen Ltd in Finland, and Chair of the Future Energy Leaders at the World Energy Council.
The participants were focused on driving change, and they made recommendations for improvement to all sectors represented at the seminar on how to increase the creative mindpower in the sector. The seminar also concluded in several sector specific recommendations (see below).
“The discussions were great. It is important to turn words into actions and we have identified a range of actions during this seminar by sharing experiences. At Landsnet we have for example identified the importance of making sure that through our stakeholder groups we are engaging both men and women equally. It seems obvious, but the future energy system has to be shaped by both genders in order to serve the society well. In order to succeed, the company also needs a gender balanced workforce, at all levels,” said Íris Baldursdóttir, EVP System Operations & ICT at Landsnet in Iceland.
Baldursdóttir is a board member of Women in Energy Iceland, with close to 300 members who want to actively influence the change that needs to take place. Together we have identified the need to strengthen women networks, highlight role models, attract more girls to energy related studies and give practical advice to energy companies.
See links to presentations from the seminar below, or in the “Downloads & Media” module.
Presentations from 2018 workshop - Copenhagen
Presentations from 2017 workshop - Stockholm