The lack of gender equality among engineers can be explained by a number of factors – traditional family structures being one of them. Another is the idea that engineering is a physical field not suited to women. Luckily, we are moving away from these notions. Norwegian renewables company Scatec believes that a diverse workforce provides a greater variety of solutions to challenges in the various countries in which it has a presence, which is why promoting equal opportunities and female empowerment is a priority for the company.
Zeinab Ramadan, one of the engineers working at the Benban solar plant, encourages women to pursue engineering. “I started by working in construction, where I gained a lot of experience. What I love most about engineering is that it has unique and endless challenges. I encourage all girls to follow their dreams, whether in engineering or other fields,” says Ramadan.
Asmaa Mahrous, a field engineering supervisor, shares why engineering attracts her. “I work closely with three teams: operations, engineering, and analytics,” she explains. “This way of working enhances both my technical and analytical skills. I collect, verify and have a solid understanding of the data, which furthers my understanding of the technology we work with and the industry as a whole.”
The O&M team’s women highlight that getting to where they are today has not necessarily been easy. Engineer Ghada Amen said when she decided to go into engineering, the community objected based on the assumption that engineering is a profession better suited to men, and citing shortages of job opportunities for women in the Aswan region. Her family, though, have been supportive and helped her to withstand the objections.
“I was determined to get a job working in operations and maintenance at the solar plant. Eventually, I found Scatec and a manager who believed in equality between men and women. The opportunity boosted my confidence. Engineering is a field of unique and endless challenges, and that’s what makes it fun. My advice to companies is to provide more job opportunities to women, and my advice to women is to follow their dream, persevere in achieving it and prove themselves,” says Amen. The community accepted the change after seeing Amen’s career achievements, she says, adding that women still face some resistance from communities with less awareness.
Skills over gender
Being consistent when it comes to a focus on skills over gender in recruitment processes, training, and education are among the measures implemented to raise the share of female engineers and ensure gender equality. There is a focus on non-gender-biased competencies throughout the recruitment process, such as technological capabilities, intellectual capacities, and also risk and safety awareness. In addition, all employees undergo training in the Scatec code of conduct, which supports the same foundation.
“We are building a robust, highly efficient team of engineers working with operations and maintenance of our plants in Egypt. In an environment with an otherwise conservative mindset, a strong focus on how we achieve and maintain gender equality is particularly important,” says Ehab Adel, O&M manager for Scatec.
Increasing the percentage of female engineers in the team demands awareness about the equal treatment of all employees. Shift hours and tasks are equally distributed across the team, regardless of gender. The effects of the measures implemented are apparent. The percentage of female candidates applying for similar roles has increased, and so has the share of high school female students from Aswan looking to pursue engineering.
“Our engineers, Asmaa Mahrous, Zeinab Ramadan, and Ghada Ahmed, are role models, and they are inspiring other women in their communities. The [Egyptian] president’s office has even recognized their efforts as significant to empower other young women. We are proud of what we have achieved, and we will continue to be consistent in our efforts,” Adel concludes.
Jasmine Nguyen is the HR director of Scatec in Vietnam. She is project lead for diversity and inclusion activities for Scatec and is passionate about promoting women in STEM careers, as well as in the fields of human rights and the environment.
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