Daria, thanks for giving H2 View your time. We’re celebrating the women working in hydrogen this International Women’s Day. So, what first sparked your interest in hydrogen and working in this industry?

Daria Nochevnik (DN): Clean hydrogen provides a unique versatile solution for accelerating the transition to net zero, while enabling greater resilience and cost-efficiency of energy systems across geographies. At the same time, the development of hydrogen economies worldwide can contribute to reaching a number of the Sustainable Development Goals in both developing and in developed countries.

We all know that the lights are flashing red on the climate dashboard. Having worked in energy and climate policy and regulatory affairs for more than a decade, I personally felt that focusing on facilitating clean hydrogen deployment was an opportunity to help making a difference.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. What does this mean to you? And what advice would you give to women experiencing bias and unconscious bias?

DN: Do not get discouraged when you are faced with an unconscious gender bias, however difficult it may be. We all fall prey to unconscious bias to a degree – it is part of being human. We need to remind ourselves that the unconscious nature of the bias makes it difficult for the person carrying it to acknowledge it. Krawcheck, author of Own It: The Power of Women at Work gives the following practical advice: “Believe in the best of the person across the table from you, assume that they are good people, give them what I call MRI (most respectful interpretation), instruct them in a non-confrontational way, crack a joke about it to ease the tension, and if they continue to act in a poor way, go to your supervisor or HR.” Finding a mentor and reflecting on your career pathway with them can be an invaluable exercise to help you focus on your priorities and navigate professional relationships.

What are the challenges facing women in hydrogen today, especially the next generation?

DN: These challenges are not dissimilar to those we observe in the energy sector more widely. Research shows that the biggest challenge faced by the sector is in fact not recruitment of women professionals but retention. In 2019 women accounted for 15% of senior managers in the energy sector on average, up from less than one in 10 in the early 2000s – this evidences how companies are making efforts to tackle this challenge, which is crucial. Turning to the public sector, according to a study which covered 72 countries across the globe, women represent only 6% of ministerial positions responsible for national energy policies and programs. Public-private cooperation will play an important role in addressing the barriers that women in the sector face across the areas of employment and leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. We in the Hydrogen Council are currently developing such an initiative, which we hope to announce in the coming months.

Tell us about one woman who has positively impacted you in your career?  

DN: I have been fortunate to work with many brilliant women in the sector throughout my career. Today, I am very grateful for the opportunity to be working with two extraordinary professionals leading the Sustainability Programme in the Hydrogen Council – Sylvie Denoble-Mayer, Group Hydrogen Deputy Vice-President at ENGIE, and Traci Kraus, Director for Government Relations at Cummins. Their expertise, work ethics and dedication are truly inspiring.

Finally, what’s the key message you’d like to get across for International Women’s Day?

DN: Gender equity is not zero sum. Diverse teams show better performance outcomes, better decision making and more innovation – we need to harness a diverse talent pool of experts and decision-makers as we pave the way for the transition to net zero. Using only half of our collective brainpower is not good enough to tackle climate change.