How a network of female energy professionals aims to defy the sector’s diversity challenges

An amazing new intitaive IVUGER launched recently to help increase the visibility of underrepresented groups in energy research. Ms Ana Laranjeira from the Centre for Environmental Policy is one of the organisers and we asked her to tell us more about IVUGER and the launch event.

Participants at the IVUGER meetingOn the 29 November the Increasing Visibility of Underrepresented Groups in Energy Research (IVUGER) hosted their first-ever event. Its aim was to establish the first network of women working on heat decarbonisation and bring them together to meet and provide mentoring opportunities from females from academia, industry and policy.

On the day about 30 women working in the broad field of decarbonisation of energy, from different regions, nationalities, disciplines, and varying career stages, got together to network and learn from one another.

Increasing Visibility of Underrepresented Groups in Energy Research event

Inspiration

The day started off with inspirational talks from six different female leaders excelling in this field:

  • Professor Gioia Falcone, Rankine Chair of Energy Engineering, University of Glasgow;
  • Dr Jhuma Sadhukhan, Reader Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey;
  • Dr Ina Colombo, Deputy Director General International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR);
  • Dr Rosa Cuellar-Franca, Lecturer in Sustainable Chemical Engineering, University of Manchester;
  • Dr Tamaryn Napp, Research Fellow Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London
  • Dr Miao Guo, EPSRC Research Fellow, Centre for Process Systems Engineering, Imperial College London.

Participants at the IVUGER meetingThe participants got to hear about their professional journeys so far, and their top tips for how to excel in this competitive sector. The speakers then took on the role of ‘On-the day Mentor’ , and  gathered in groups with the participants for a small group Q&A session.

“The speakers were outstanding and it was really useful to learn from their experiences both in academia and the industry. Their careers were so different, that everybody in the room gained something from it” (IVUGER participant)

Vision

All of this is aligned with IVUGER’s vision of creating a strong network of innovative and diverse women, and to provide them with the space and resources to establish long-term, meaningful collaborations in the topic of decarbonisation of heat.

In fact, collaboration was the main focus of the afternoon with a unique Collaborations Skills for Researchers Workshop, led by Caroline Broad. During this activity, participants got to learn more about their individual way of working and communicating, as well as getting to know the other participants better.

Participants at the IVUGER meeting

“I liked that the ‘networking’ was heavily facilitated with activities to follow. This encouraged speaking with more people and in a more meaningful way. I hadn’t experienced something like this before done for this purpose” (IVUGER participant)

The session allowed them to start building the foundations for potential collaborations, as well as how to use one’s individual attributes to successfully cooperate with others  – all crucial elements to IVUGER’s future plans.

The future

And what are the next steps for the IVUGER network?

IVUGER will act as a central hub for academics, policy-makers and industry to source collaborators who work in industrial and domestic heat decarbonisation. But for that to happen, the work must start now.

Participants at the IVUGER meetingIn our bid to bring about proactive solutions to increase the visibility of women in energy, IVUGER’s second event will be a Writing Retreat in which groups of early-career female researchers will get the opportunity to prepare a proposal for seed funding which we will award (up to £12,000) to the most novel, innovative and impactful projects in decarbonisation of heat.

Events like these, and the incredible cooperation of all of the participants, are the building blocks to the future we’re aiming for – one in which females are no longer an underrepresented group in the energy sector, but fully acknowledged for their work and professional capabilities.

Registration for the Writing Retreat will begin in January 2019. For more information please contact Ana Laranjeira at amg4517@ic.ac.uk.

IVUGER is part of the UKERC Whole Systems Networking Fund and is led by Dr Zoe Harris and Dr Gbemi Oluleye.

Ana Laranjeira

Ana LaranjeiraAna Laranjeira is a Research Assistant at Imperial College’s Centre for Environmental Policy working on the IVUGER (Increasing Visibility of Underrepresented Groups in Energy Research) project, part of UKERC’s Wholesytem Networking Fund. She

 

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