On the positive side, women had high visibility among delegates and exhibitors, the conference programme included a ‘Women in Green Hydrogen’ session (pictured) and new principal sponsor, the Mexico Economic Development Department, had Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes in attendance.
Tina Anderson, Head of Sales and Applications Engineering at Norwegian electrolyser start-up Hystar – who spoke at the session – also collected ‘The World’s Most Efficient Electrolyser Award’ which was presented at the show.
Both women were interviewed by the H2 View video team and will be featured on the magazine’s social channels soon.
And yet there was a sense that the show, and industry, can do far more to foster diversity. The majority of speakers in the conference hall were men and delegates heard in the session that women account for less than one-in-three employees in the renewable energy sector. The challenge remains to break the prevalence of ‘all male’ boards and make hydrogen more accessible to students and graduates.
Anderson said Norway has a relatively large share of female engineering students, and this is reflected in Hystar, where around 37% of the workforce is women.
She said, “Having role models, and showing younger colleagues it’s possible to have a career – not only in engineering but also management – from a young age, gives belief that this is something they can pursue, and shows there are growth opportunities. It’s very important for every company to establish such a structure.”
Nada Zamel, Senior Scientist at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energie Systems (ISE), said it is encouraging to see momentum towards fuel cells in the last 20 years, and more women represented in green hydrogen and fuel cells.
“We have a ‘Girls’ Day’ where they can visit different labs and see what we do from a research perspective. I try to use my position as much as possible to mentor women, and give lectures at the university so students can see representation of female scientists.”
She added that ‘diversity’ doesn’t just mean attracting more women but fostering diversity of thought and knowledge.
Diana Moradi, Director of Business Development at Ceres Power, the UK licensing company working on SOFC technologies, paid tribute to moderator Prof. Dr Jasna Jankovic as a “role model” for developing women in green hydrogen.
“My team always actively head hunt female engineers and we have a range of female nationalities. We have various programmes in schools, to teach students about zero emissions and new technologies, and we work with Imperial College in London, and Oxford university students. Luckily the UK Government is supporting hydrogen a lot, so there are massive opportunities to get funding and be active in the industry.”
Carolynn Jaworska, Co-ordinator of Exhibitions and Events at Messe Stuttgart, was called on stage and thanked for being ‘the power’ behind the women in green hydrogen movement at hyfcell.
“We are really breaking the borders, either by moving around at events such as these, or working in different countries,” said Jankovic.