National Grid is propelling the need for more women with green skills into the spotlight, with a call to girls to embrace the net zero challenge and consider a STEM-based career.
In the UK alone, the transition to net zero will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs but, according to Boston Consulting Group, by 2030 only a quarter of these green jobs could be taken by women, potentially delaying progress towards gender equality by 10 to 15 years.2
In fact, current data shows that the UK is facing a gender green skills gap. Representation of women in STEM based careers is low, with females making up just a quarter (26%) of the UK’s STEM workforce. This is up a mere 5% on 2016 numbers and the organisation STEM Women estimates that we will not see equal gender representation in STEM careers until 2070.
Yet research shows that 80% of young girls want their career to make a ‘positive contribution’ to society and 83 per cent of women want to help the UK reach its net zero target.3 This is why, on International Day of the Girl, National Grid is issuing a call for girls to embrace STEM-based careers and become the future female leaders of the UK’s energy transition. It's also announcing its aim to increase its STEM based apprenticeships in 2024 by 18% on 2023 levels, and four times its 2020 levels. This follows research that shows the UK’s energy sector will need to fill 400,000 jobs to meet its target to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
To shine a light on the issue of more girls taking up STEM based careers, National Grid handed over the reins of two of its business units to two teenage girls as part of the global Girls Takeover event. Organised by Plan International, Girls Takeover calls for action in tearing down the barriers that girls continue to face and showcases the meaningful contribution women and girls make in the workplace. As part of the global event, Precious, a 15-year-old from the south of England, became President of National Grid’s Electricity Transmission business for the day, taking over the role from Alice Delahunty. Alice is one of three female leaders at the helm of National Grid businesses and began her career as a graduate in the energy sector twenty years ago. Leela, a 16-year-old from the US, took over the role of Rudy Wynter, President of National Grid in New York for the day, where her responsibilities included approving work on the ground at a Brooklyn operations facility; running a session with women leaders and taking the stage as a speaker at a team summit focused on clean energy achievements and goals.
It’s essential that we inspire young women to consider jobs and careers in energy and showcase everything they can experience and achieve. National Grid is the heart of the UK's energy transition, and we need big-thinkers, innovators and builders to lead and support us on this journey.
On the day, Precious oversaw The Great Grid Upgrade – the largest overhaul of the grid in generations – chairing a National Grid Electricity Transmission board meeting and steering an employee resource group session aimed at fostering a more inclusive workplace for women with STEM skills.
Precious also visited National Grid’s flagship training centre in Eakring, getting hands on with the more physical side of a net zero career; not only meeting apprentices already enrolled on National Grid programmes to discuss the merits of career at National Grid but also climbing a 150ft pylon and taking part in a helicopter flight to review a potential transmission route for The Great Grid Upgrade.
Commenting on her experience at National Grid, Precious said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. The impact of National Grid on our everyday lives is huge and it’s not something you really think about in terms of where the energy comes from or how it gets to our homes. We just turn the lights on. National Grid’s role is so important, the challenge and scale of what it’s doing nationally is massive, which is what makes it such a motivating and challenging place to be.”
When asked what her key motivation will be in choosing a career, Precious said: “The ability to make a real impact on the world is key for me. When I retire, being able to look back and say I helped people, developed something or enabled something to happen to make the world a better place for future generations is just huge.”
Precious’ takeover follows research by Plan International UK, which shows that 49% of females aged 14-24 do not feel a senior leadership position in STEM is within their reach, and 39% feel they would not be taken seriously if they were to pursue a career in the sector. However, at National Grid, the number of females in STEM-based apprenticeships has doubled since 2020, with women representing 24% of intakes.
Alice Delahunty, President of National Grid Electricity Transmission, said: “It’s essential that we inspire young women to consider jobs and careers in energy and showcase everything they can experience and achieve. National Grid is the heart of the UK's energy transition, and we need big-thinkers, innovators and builders to lead and support us on this journey. This is why we are working hard to break down the barriers that prevent girls from taking up STEM based careers.
“I have enjoyed every moment of my career from starting as an Electrical Engineer to now being one of three women running business units in National Grid plc. The Girls Takeover and Precious specifically, have done an amazing job of highlighting what a career in energy is really like, which is so important for attracting the next generation. Precious took everything we threw at her in her stride and truly demonstrates the qualities required to be a leader. I was immensely proud. It’s so important that we continue to push boundaries and inspire more women and girls to enter the energy sector.”
Rose Caldwell, CEO at Plan International UK, said: “Seeing Precious take over as President of National Grid’s Electricity Transmission business is an inspiring celebration of the incredible potential of girls. The talent, ideas and strength of girls has the power to change the world, but change isn’t coming fast enough, and girls tell us they have had enough of the empty rhetoric. Together with girls we can make sure International Day of the Girl becomes more than just a day in the calendar, but a catalyst for powering a world where every girl can reach her potential.”
For young people interested in learning more about what a career at National Grid might look like for them, please visit jobs.nationalgrid.com/UK and select early years.
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Notes to editors:
National Grid sits at the heart of Britain’s energy system, connecting millions of people and businesses to the energy they use every day. Our individual companies run the systems and infrastructure that deliver electricity across the country.
National Grid is pivotal to the energy systems in the UK and the north-eastern United States. We aim to serve customers well and efficiently, supporting the communities in which we operate and making possible the energy systems of the future.