BERLIN, Germany – WiGH launches today the first expert database in the sector. It is entirely crowdsourced and aims to increase the visibility of women working on green hydrogen, an emerging sector that is heavily dominated by men when it comes to public speaking and stakeholder engagement.
“Last year, I was taking part in many conferences” shares the network’s initiator, Charlotte Hussy, Advisor at Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). “I remember noticing that the people on the stage were almost exclusively men. But I also knew there were women with equally relevant voices and expertise, who could bring new aspects to the discussion.” This prompted the launch of WiGH mid-summer 2020.
The sector’s lack of diversity at events persists today. Looking at 13 hydrogen conferences in October and November 2020, Dr. Kathrin Goldammer – Managing Director of Reiner Lemoine Institute and member of WiGH’s founding team – found that only 39 featured names were female, including moderators, out of 210 speakers in total. (You can find the full article here).
Yet, diversity and innovation are the very core of green hydrogen. The sector is increasingly growing and gaining momentum, with the publication of national hydrogen strategies as well as the uptake of pilot projects all around the world. In this fast-developing scenario, many industries and stakeholders are brought together looking for common solutions and innovative products, from heavy industries to transport and energy production. “It has been widely proven that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth, and our sector is in great need of it,” says network member Afkenel Schipstra, Senior Vice President Business Development Hydrogen at ENGIE.
Including different perspectives is fundamental due to the crucial role green hydrogen technologies are expected to play in the energy transition. Green hydrogen is key to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement since it provides a unique solution to decarbonize hard to electrify industries. “But this transition needs to be an inclusive and integrated process because it will affect different stakeholders in different ways,” says Reshma Carmel Francy, Project Manager for Energy Strategies and Policies at the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Energy and WiGH member. The development of a green hydrogen market at an international scale is expected to impact not only the reduction of GHG emissions but also the socio-economic structure of many countries, creating the potential for inequalities. “Each country has opportunities and challenges with hydrogen integration, there will be a strong need for cooperation” comments Wilkista Akinyi, Project Officer at GIZ Kenya and also a network member.
In this scenario, WiGH wants to channel the momentum and facilitate the green hydrogen sector integration, while ensuring it is an inclusive one. According to Vaitea Cowan, co-founder of Enapter and part of WiGH’s founding team “What needs to be strengthened today is the hydrogen industry’s ecosystem. Women and men will do this together”. But inclusivity captures more than gender balance: “There needs to be a change in focus. For it to work, we must think about green hydrogen at all levels: policymakers, industry, final users, civil society, environment” adds Dr. Brittany Westlake, Technical Leader at the Electric Power Research Institute, also part of WiGH’s founding team. “That is why we gathered a pool of experts that empowers women and at the same time creates added value, enriching the sector’s discourse” concludes Charlotte Hussy.
Several event organizers have already warmly welcomed the initiative. “I was very happy to come across WiGH,” says Carolynn Jaworska, Sales and Marketing Manager for Events and Conferences at Peter Sauber Agentur Messen und Kongresse GmbH. “When looking for speakers, we always try to bring diversity to the stage, but it has been tough. The database makes finding these connections easier, both at the national and the international level.” “It is also important for designing conference content” adds Kira Weinmann, Communications and Knowledge Manager at NOW GmbH “by giving women a voice WiGH enables new ways of identifying trends and hot topics in the green hydrogen discussion.”
From an initial idea to create a LinkedIn group to connect women professionals, WiGH is now a network with international outreach. The new database exceeded the expectations for the launch, gathering double the profiles the team was planning for. But it is just the first step. WiGH is planning many activities to foster knowledge exchange and professional opportunities, like peer- learning formats, social media presence, mentorship projects, and networking events. The first one is already set to take place on December 15th. “We already have an exciting agenda set up” says Julia Epp, Researcher at WZB Berlin Social Science Center “We are looking forward to connecting with the other women in green hydrogen!”
If you are a woman working in the green hydrogen sector or an event organizer and want to make use of our resources, you can find us on https://women-in-green-hydrogen.net/, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or write us at in [email protected] We would love to hear from you!
The set-up of the Women in Green Hydrogen expert database was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
Members of the WiGH founding team
- Vaitea Cowan, Enapter Co-founder, AEM Electrolyser Manufacturer
- Kathrin Goldammer, Managing Director at Reiner Lemoine Institute
- Julia Epp, PhD at Berlin Social Science Center
- Charlotte Hussy, Advisor at Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
- Gökçe Mete, Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute
- Giulia Varaschin, Young Professional at Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit
- Brittany Westlake, Technical Leader at Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
- Jekaterina Boening, Senior Policy Manager at Transport & Environment
- Kirsten Westphal Senior Energy Analyst at SWP and Member of the German National Hydrogen Council