The Women in Energy series is a joint project between USEA and USAID that was developed out of USEA’s Engendering Utilities Partnership, a program funded by USAID to improve gender policies and gender outcomes at their respective organizations.
Every month we feature a woman who has shown exemplary leadership. We want to showcase your story this month. The women among you come from diverse backgrounds and roles, and they bring with them a unique perspective to gender equality within the energy sector.
I was born in 1992 in Dakar, Senegal. I have been raised in Senegal by Senegalese parents. My parents were convinced that education was the key to success and they early encouraged us to pursue high studies. After high school, I decided to follow an electrical engineering career. Electricity has a major role in a country development, and I wanted to be part of it. The journey was not and is still not easy. I didn't ascend to opportunities because of my gender but today I am happy to see that things are changing, and women can pretend to high positions in energy sector. I am now managing the transmission system planning division in Senelec (Senegal national utility) and my main goal is to make sure that the evolution of the grid will allow energy to be sufficiently transmitted to customers. I am happy to be part of this experience and I hope my story will inspire young ladies.
*USEA does not alter the substance of the responses from the women featured. The answers are their own.
Women in Energy Interview Questions
How have your education and career path led you to where you are now?
"I had a normal education with parents who thought that education and hard work are the key to success. After high school, I’ve decided to study electrical engineering and my purpose was to always give my best to be respected by my men colleagues who thought that electricity was not for women. Until now, I am following this leitmotiv."
Over the course of your career, have you witnessed changes in the sector that have launched more women into leadership positions?
"Things are changing and in a good way. More and more women are working in the energy sector and some of them have now high responsibilities."
Technology is transforming the traditional utility business model into a more modern interactive grid. Some utilities view this transformation as an opportunity to focus on change management and diversity. Research provides compelling evidence that inclusion and diversity unlock innovation and drives better business performance. What, if anything, is your organization doing to attract, retain, and promote more women into senior management positions to respond to the dramatic industry transformation?
"Unfortunately, my organization has not defined any strategy to promote women into senior management positions."
Are talented women within your organization making it to top leadership positions? Why/why not?
"Yes, actually there are women in the top management of my organization and even in the energy ministry. People are ascending to important positions not because of their gender, but because of their abilities, and women have proven they could be key figures to lean on."
Companies that embrace diversity outperform their competitors. What type of diversity programs does your organization have in place to mentor future women leaders? How does your organization measure and report gender diversity? Is the data publicly available?
"There is no gender diversity program to mentor women in my organization. This is something the company need to develop."
What actions should the energy and electricity sector be focused on to accelerate change, increase diversity, and foster a better gender balance in the boardroom?
"The first step should start by promoting energy sector to young ladies. A lot of them think that energy sector is still exclusively dedicated to men."