A poll of Ukrainian students by the NGO Center for Corporate Social Responsibility (NGO CSR Ukraine) found that just one percent are interested in a career in energy. Among other barriers, gender stereotypes deter girls from pursuing energy jobs: many people still feel that energy is a male business and not a career option for women. When girls and women hear these stereotypes and opt out of energy professions, it reinforces the gender imbalance in the sector, creating a cycle of exclusion.
To challenge existing stereotypes and motivate girls to choose energy specialties and plan careers in energy, the USAID Energy Security Project and the NGO CSR Ukraine have implemented a series of activities that successfully promote energy professions. These initiatives include hackathons for girls, developing and distributing the booklet “Your future in electricity sector” contest for the best career guidance lesson, and the online course “Careers in energy is cool!“.
Two online hackathons, “How to Interest Girls in Energy Sector,” gathered 80 girls from 11 regions of Ukraine. During the hackathons, the girls in the teams developed projects aimed aimed at getting other young people interested in power engineering, took part in interactive gender equality sessions, learned about design thinking, and met successful female power engineers. The winning teams’ ideas will be turned into real products: six videos tackling gender stereotypes about power engineering and a tabletop game called “Energy Charge.”
Girls who joined the hackathons had plenty to say:
“There’s been a firestorm of emotions. You realize that in fact there is a possibility to implement your idea. And such ideas will really help girls to realize how interesting power engineering could be. And your project, like the projects of the others, can be used all over Ukraine. To be perfectly frank, I currently pay more attention to PR and communications careers. The thoughts were stealing in to leave the energy sector for good, but after the hackathons my heart is crying, saying that I need power engineering. Thank you for that,” – Alina Trotsai, City of Kharkiv
“Participation in hackathons has encouraged me to commit myself to power engineering,” – Iaroslava Kurkova, City of Poltava
“Before this hackathon I could not lead the way and did not consider myself a leader. But this time—I succeeded! The hackathon has inspired me a lot by both its topic and dealing with mentors. Honestly, I enjoyed our game so much that even if we had not won, I would have finalized the game and launched it anyhow,” – Maria Bublyk, City of Kropyvnytskyi
The professions which the graduates choose largely depend on the career guidance they receive at school. “The Best Gender-Sensitive Power Engineering Career Guidance Lesson” is an all-Ukrainian contest for teachers focused on encouraging boys and girls equally to learn engineering. Teachers submitted 36 power engineering career guidance sessions for the contest, of which 15 were shortlisted to be presented publicly at a nationwide online conference.
The teachers who won the contest shared their impressions:
“Thanks to my participation in the contest, my schoolchildren and I have understood the well-known statement: “Career choice is a second birth of a human being.” And it does not matter who you are: boy or girl. Set a goal and follow it,” – Olena Mykhailyak
“Our children need career guidance support in choosing occupations. At this stage, energy technology plays an important role in developing the national economy and meeting the needs of households. It is important to advocate for power engineering professions equally for men and women,” – Iryna Oliynyk
“Many people would like to have knowledge but only a few are ready to gain it. Thanks to my participation in the contest, I was able to stir up the interest of children in ecology, math and power engineering. Eventually, I showed the children new prospects and gained a positive experience for myself,” – Svitlana Maiivka
For those who would like to deepen their knowledge on power engineering and plan a career in this sector, the online course “A Career in Energy is Cool” will be handy; the course dispels myths and is useful not only for schoolchildren, but also for university students, their parents, and even teachers. A series of ten videos funded by the USAID Energy Security Project (ESP) and created by the Center for CSA Improvement talk about where energy comes from; how electricity, gas, hot water, and heat get into our homes; what energy security is and why it is important; what innovations are widely used in the Ukrainian energy sector; why it is necessary for more women to get involved in energy; where to find industry-specific education; how to apply for an internship/training, pass an interview, and get a job at an energy company; and tackles myths about the energy sector.
Every year, Ukraine needs more young, motivated, and educated people working in power engineering. Through ESP, USAID is helping get young people interested in power engineering and training skilled staff—a strategy that will benefit everyone in Ukraine.