Utility companies and trade bodies from across the industry have been marking International Women’s Day today (8 March).
Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher called on the sector to do more to encourage diversity.
She said: “At Ofwat we’re lucky to have incredible women working on everything from engineering to economics.
“I’m proud to be at the helm of an organisation that supports and recognises the talent that our women have to offer.
“But that doesn’t mean the water sector couldn’t do more to encourage diversity, and today it’s especially important for us all to think about how we can support women in the industry.”
Maria Connolly, partner and leader of the clean energy team at law firm TLT, drew reference to the government’s new offshore wind sector deal, announced this week, which aims to have women in at least a third of total offshore wind roles by 2030.
Connolly said: “The new offshore wind sector deal, which aims to have women in at least a third of total offshore wind roles by 2030, is a good step forward.
“At present, only 16 per cent of the offshore wind workforce are women and it’s encouraging to see the government making both sector growth and increasing the proportion of women working in the industry a priority.
“Numerous studies have shown how diversity benefits business, so increasing the number of women in the clean energy sector could help foster further innovation, ingenuity and growth.”
Meanwhile Liv Garfield, chief executive of Severn Trent, said: “It’s really important that we make the footprints that women can follow in the future.
“I can only mentor so many people, so it’s more about setting up the right environment where everyone can flourish and that’s the best legacy I can leave for generations of women to come.”
Writing in a blog post, Abbie Sampson, director of external affairs at Energy UK, highlighted how the trade body had collected the views of more than 50 women from a range of companies to offer advice to other women who may be considering a role in the sector.
Sampson said: “We felt it was important to highlight the multitude of roles and opportunities for women in the energy industry.
“The response we received was phenomenal, with over 50 women coming to London to share what they enjoy about working in energy and their advice for others.”
Earlier this week industry regulator Ofgem launched its diversity and inclusion strategy.
In the 16-page document it sets out objectives to encourage more women to pursue positions in leadership and STEM subjects.
In a blog post published on 7 March, Ofgem’s chief executive, Dermot Nolan, said: “By 2025, Ofgem aspires to achieve 50 per cent female representation across all its pay grades, from the most junior roles all the way up to our senior civil servants.”
United Utilities meanwhile co-hosted an event at its Cheshire headquarters with Soroptimist International of Warrington, with an aim to try and banish misconceptions about working with technology for 50 girls from Great Sankey High School in Warrington.
Organiser Rachael Dingle said: “The big question we’ll be asking them is whether they would be happy and successful in a technical career.
“Happy and successful are only words but they’re a different way of talking about these types of jobs. In the past recruiters have tended to use words like becoming a leader, which might appeal more to boys but could be off-putting for a lot of people.”
Northumbrian Water’s chief executive, Heidi Mottram, said the energy and utilities sectors face a “significant skills gap”, with more than 200,000 new entrants to the industry needed in the next ten years.
She added: “While this is an issue that needs to be tackled, it also represents a real opportunity to bring more women into engineering as we look to address not only that skills gap but also the gender imbalance that exists in this sector.
“With less than 10 per cent of the UK engineering sector made up of women, we clearly need to do more to encourage female entrants to the industry.
“This needs to be done at a number of key stages of education, when young people are forming their ideas of different careers, as well as in a way that engages people later in life, inspiring people to consider moving into engineering from other areas.”