New network to shake up male-dominated renewable energy industry

‘Entrepreneurial Women in Renewable Energy' calls on ambitious women to join and represent their sector

A new network, which will challenge the assumption that renewable energy it is simply a male-dominated industry, was kickstarted yesterday at the south west's biggest low-carbon event.

Entrepreneurial Women in Renewable Energy (EWiRE), an initiative that has been driven by Regen SW events manager Rachel Hayes, was launched at the Annual Renewable Futures conference in Bath in front of some of the industry's most successful businesses. It was a particularly significant day for EWiRE as the enterprise also received formal notification that it has gained funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for the first phase of its development.

Rachel is now urging all ambitious women in the UK renewable energy industry to connect with the network and raise the profile of women in what is often perceived as a male dominated area of business.

"Despite having some exceptional high-profile women working in the energy industry, there is still a huge imbalance, with men filling the majority of the highest positions in successful companies," she said. "As a modern, growing industry it's imperative that we address this and encourage more women to rise to the top and be represented in not only senior management roles but also as board members of small to medium-sized enterprises that make up the majority of the energy market."

Rachel was inspired to start the initiative after reading Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In in 2013. She discussed her idea with Regen SW director Cheryl Hiles, who has played a key role in the growth of the non-for-profit organisation, rising through the ranks at Regen to her senior position.

"Our key objectives are simple but ambitious," added Rachel. "We aim to greatly increase the visibility and profile of women working in sustainable energy businesses and promote the attractiveness of working in the sector to encourage wider female participation. Improving this gender balance is crucial if we're to develop an industry that can forge its way forwards through the 21st century."

Entrepreneurial Women in Renewables will consist of a number of initiatives, including networking events, promoting board positions to the network on the Regen SW site, promoting case studies of successful women in renewables, and a training and mentoring programme for those women who are entering the industry and have ambitions to rise through the ranks.

Today's launch was welcomed by successful women in the industry, including Sonia Bedford, head of renewable energy at Stephens Scown Solicitors. She said: "Entrepreneurial Women in Renewables is a welcome initiative that should go a long way towards removing many of the perceived barriers that women in our industry face. I look forward to seeing increased visibility for prominent women within the renewable and a focus on role-models that others can aspire to."

Gareth Redmond from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "Can I congratulate the Entrepreneurial Women in Renewables Initiative. If DECC can help lend its support we would love to."

The group's first meeting as a formal network – an event with the opportunity to meet up with other like-minded women – will take place at the end of January 2015.

Any women that are already in or would like to become involved in the renewable energy industry should contact Rachel Hayes at, 01392 494399.

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