On the 17th of October, the British Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the British Embassy in Mexico, hosted the breakfast-conference: Gender Equality in the Energy Sector. The panellists were Susan Morrice, Founder and Chairperson of Belize Natural Energy, and Raylene Whitford, CEO of Løvinne Energy, with Anna Raptis, CEO of Raptis Group, acting as moderator. Our panellists engaged in a thought-provoking dialogue regarding the current situation of gender equality and inclusion in the energy sector.
Susan Morrice, Anna Raptis and Raylene Whitford
Susan Morrice shared her experiences and journey in the traditionally masculine energy sector, as well as her insights regarding gender inclusion from her own perspective and experiences. Susan shared with the audience that she was not just trying to find oil in Belize, but also attempting to positively impact and generate development in the country.
However, despite all her efforts in searching for oil in Belize, she faced being talked down to constantly.
Moreover, Susan considers that it is all about the mindset you adopt, and emphasised the need to instil the right ideas and values as early as possible in children, as it is at those stages where this mindset is formed. Susan advised that everyone learn to have control over their own mind and not let the past define the present or the future, particularly in their professional lives. Furthermore, Susan was the first woman ever to appear on the cover of the Oil & Gas Shipping magazine.
Raylene Whitford spoke about her professional path in the financial industry, where she stood out at a very young age, and her interest in integrating the energy sector even when she had little knowledge about it. She stressed how her persistence and determination eventually led to her obtaining a position onshore for a drilling company.
However, as the energy sector was and still is today a very unusual workplace for a woman, Raylene recalled her experiences and how she was talked down to - even by her own family - in an attempt to protect her. Despite these attempts to sway her, Raylene kept engaging in energy topics and moved further into the sector, with these actions leading to her opening her own company focused on social impact orientation.
Raylene advised that we are all capable of doing whatever we aim to achieve, not only by working hard towards it, but also by putting your mind to it.
The breakfast-conference was an open dialogue amongst the panellists and attendees, in which insights, experiences and opinions were brought to the table and shared. It was agreed that there is a need to have a greater variety of role models within the industry, both women leading from the front and men embracing gender inclusion and equality. Both genders have a place at the table, and we should expect to see equal contributions between them.
Anna Raptis remarked that there are three principal factors contributing to the current gender gap: education, cultural norms and the double “burden” of household responsibilities as well. It was also discussed that giving more workplace flexibility solely to women would not be considered biased if it is done rationally and with good intentions.
In addition, to improve gender equality in the sector, the role of men in the family is vital, and they ought to have more flexibility in the workplace, to be able to engage more in family activities and share household responsibilities. To achieve this, there must be a shift in the cultural mindset, to diminish the stigma that pervades the topic of ‘househusbands’. Despite the increasing percentage of women majoring in subjects such as economics, law or management (around 50%), only 20% of engineering graduates are women. The number hasn’t increased much in the last few years, regardless of the efforts to attract women to these major degrees.
Finally, panellists concluded that schools and other educational institutions play a very influential role for the next generation. Education from schools should reinforce gender inclusion and equality, and encourage STEM career choices.
The British Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank attendees, the speakers and the British Embassy for this interesting conference, we look forward to organising many more events regarding this fascinating topic.
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