International Women in Engineering Day – Shooting down the stereotypes of women engineers in the wind energy sector

The global wind day is on the15th of June and the international women in engineering day is on the 23rd of June. In the wind Specialization of the EUREC masters in renewable energy hosted at the National Technical University of Athens, we have good reason to celebrate both!

According to IRENA’s publication, 21% is the share of women in the wind energy workforce. This year in Athens, 6 out of the 13 students are women, which means a share of 46% are women engineers. The wind specialization in Athens has run for more than 20 years, since 2002 and this is the first time that almost half of the students who attend this course are women. The most common case is to have few women with a low share up to 25%.

Valeria Santos Cilento, a Mechanical Engineer from Venezuela chose the wind specialization: “After working on my bachelor’s thesis, where I studied the techno-economic feasibility of a small wind farm located on an island in my country. Later, I became involved in the topic of sustainability during my first job experience and became part of a network of young people also interested in the field. There I found the motivation to get on board the emerging field of wind energy as a career and support the sustainable energy transition as a passion”.

Emily Murray, a Mechanical Engineer from Canada decided to come to Europe for the Renewable Energy Master, and she chose Greece, not only for the islands! “Canada has just begun its transition to renewable energy, so it seemed fitting to come to Europe and learn from those that have been spearheading the transition since the beginning of the 21st century. The wind specialization in Athens provided a diverse and comprehensive education in all aspects of wind energy, taught by specialists from all over Europe. This semester in Athens allowed me to expand my perspective on the impacts renewable energy can have worldwide and I look forward to continuing my education in this master’s program.”

Prajakta Ranade, a Mechanical Engineer from India, wishes to make her contribution to the energy transition, both globally and in India: “A topic which I am keen to explore is how the availability of the wind resource varies according to geographical regions, and how it can be optimally utilized. The wind energy specialization in Greece has broadened my academic as well as cultural horizons, and I am excited to develop my career in the European energy sector.”

Azadeh Momenifar, Electrical Engineer from Iran, “I worked for one of the biggest electrical engineering companies in Iran, and this opened my eyes to the significance of renewable energy. I believe that Renewable Energy can change the world. The era of using non-Renewable Energy is over and the world needs to use new sustainable energy sources more than ever. With its incredible scientific background in the field of wind energy, the National Technical University of Athens was the best place to pursue my goals in this field. I am very eager to help develop this field in Asia and Europe.”

Assia Achhibat, Civil Engineer from Morocco who has worked 5 years for construction companies in the past, decided to make a turn on her career and spend almost 4 months in Greece to pursue a future in renewable energy. “I was living a family life in France when I set up this project, being a member of the renewable energy field is something that I wanted to do for a long time, and this year is the opportunity to do it. This period was so hard for us, living separated from my husband and my 3-year-old son, but with their support I can now say that I’m proud of the decision that I’ve made. The lecturers and the professors are highly qualified in the field. I left Athens carrying a solid background and nice memories.”

Finally, Hanne Macken, Business engineer from Belgium, the only European among the six, believes that the proportion of women in the engineering sector is heading in the right direction: “Let’s continue this trend in wind engineering. Time to break the male stereotype of engineering!”

All of them agree that with the background knowledge provided in the wind specialization at NTUA, the support of the great network of people from around the globe that were part of their class, and the motivation provided by a warm semester spent in Athens, they will successfully start a new stage of their careers in renewable energy projects.

Author: George Caralis (NTUA)