At work with ‘Females in Energy Efficiency’
At a mentorship breakfast held at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on 10 March 2016, hosted by the Southern African Females in Energy Efficiency (SAFEE), a number of young, women students and future entrepreneurs had an opportunity to share their concerns, ideas and aspirations with regard to fitting into South Africa’s engineering and energy industry. The SAFEE (a division of the SAEE) has ventured into mentorship programmes at tertiary institutions promoting educational interest in the energy sector as a career option. This… in an effort to empower women and make all things equal in an historically gender-disparate industry. The support and motivation at the mentorship event was offered by highly respected and well established women across the country’s energy sector.
A better life for women
Women bear the brunt and burden of energy poverty with risks to their health, safety and wellbeing as a result of household air pollution, lack of lighting, the heavy fuel loads that they carry daily… not to mention their time spent on tasks that would not be necessary in a society that embraced sustainable energy solutions. At this point in the 21st Century, the lowering of renewable energy technology costs has changed the energy outlook with an end to the brunt and burden in sight. The gender discrepancy exists on a different scale in the corporate sense… where often, men are selected for top positions in preference to their equally or better qualified female colleagues. These are challenges which women have faced for many years… but the time has come and women are taking a stand.
With the objective of increasing women’s access to sustainable energy and, therefore, making the associated opportunities accessible, the SAFEE has the vision to ‘Establish a large representation of females playing an influential role in the energy management sector’. . In the belief that opportunities in the energy sector should be available to everyone with appropriate qualifications, the SAFEE gives women a platform to support, motivate, encourage and network with one another. The organisation has embarked on a journey of assisting women to become powerful agents for change in the transitional phase to sustainability. To this end, the SAFEE has planned many networking, coaching, mentorship and information sharing events for 2016.
In an interview with Leanne Manas on SABC’s Morning Live, third year chemical engineering student, Edinah Joy January, described the mentorship programme as very beneficial to students. "The breakfast mentorship programme was quite amazing, very empowering. I got in touch with phenomenal women and what I learned from it is the fact that there are a lot of opportunities in the energy sector. It has encouraged me to consider a career opportunity in the energy sector… more specifically in environmental engineering."
Join the SAFEE
You need to be a member of the SAEE in order to join the SAFEE. Being a member will enable you to contribute towards discussions throughout the year, to ask for assistance play a part in achieving a gender-equal engineering industry and energy society. Make enquiries, too, about becoming one of the mentors.
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