6 takeaways from our UK Girls Takeover 2023 panel

Every year, to celebrate International Day of the Girl (11 October), Girls Takeover gives girls all over the world the opportunity to step into the roles of senior business leaders for a day. 

The aim of Girls Takeover is to raise awareness of equal power, freedom and representation for girls and young women. 

This year, we’ve partnered with Plan International to run Girls Takeovers in both the UK and US. The theme of our takeover is Putting women at the forefront of the transition to net zero.

Girls Takeover - Precious and Alice Delahunty in the Boardroom

Girls Takeover: The female leaders’ panel event

15-year-old Precious was the UK Girls Takeover recruit for National Grid, stepping into the role of President of Electricity Transmission. One of her tasks for the day was to host a panel discussion with some of our female senior managers on the topic of the STEM gap, and why the future net zero workforce needs more women leaders. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from this thought-provoking conversation on the importance of attracting more female leaders to the future net zero workforce and ways we can do this. 

1. Businesses need a diverse talent pool entering into senior management to enable future board diversity

A diverse workforce brings together different knowledge, skillsets and experiences. We know that we’ll face issues in the future that we can’t anticipate right now, so by ensuring diversity is strongly embedded throughout our organisation, and planning for a diverse workforce tomorrow, we can be better prepared for future challenges. 

2. We need young people to engage in the clean energy future now

The volume of people studying STEM subjects needs to increase to fill the number of jobs that a clean energy future will necessitate – including digital and cyber skills. Our research has found that the UK’s energy sector will need to fill 400,000 jobs if it’s to meet its target to deliver net zero emissions by 2050. 

However, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) shows there’s currently a 173,000 person shortfall in STEM. Research also shows that there are currently less young people entering engineering professions than is needed to secure a net zero future, so more young people need to be engaged and motivated to study STEM subjects.

We’re currently looking at ways to develop our STEM strategy - at primary, secondary and university level - to get young people excited about engineering and the sector.

3. It’s important to support and engage with women in non-traditional roles

We want the women in our organisation to feel empowered and enabled to progress their career path and charter their own course to success. Because ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, having women in senior roles is vital to inspire younger generations.

Our Women in Non-Traditional Roles (WiNTR) Employee Resource Group was set up 8 years ago to engage, support and advocate for women who hold non-traditional roles within National Grid, and to increase awareness and attract more women to these roles.

Our UK group was established 9 months ago with the same aims - to encourage and empower all members and ensuring they have the right tools to get to where they want to be.

4. Tackling the twin challenge of gender and net zero presents a big opportunity

To deliver our net zero ambition we’ll need a variety of people with a variety of skillsets and experience. 

This presents a challenge, but also a huge opportunity. We’re committed to building a diverse talent pipeline now – through our apprenticeship, graduate and internship schemes, to ensure that National Grid is a leader in this space. 

For example, the goals for our Early Careers programmes include delivering gender parity – 50% female, 50% male – by 2025. 

5. A career in STEM can bring unexpected, exciting opportunities

To engage young people in pursuing a career in STEM, it’s important to highlight the many exciting opportunities that these careers can bring. 

For engineering professions, our panellists agreed that there is an element of invisibility when it comes to the range of fulfilling and rewarding jobs available. 

In 2022, Engineering UK found that women make up just 16.5% of all engineers in the UK. Precious asserted that more needs to be done to highlight female role models in engineering and this could be approached using social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

6. There are alternative pathways into engineering aside from a university degree

There are many different routes into engineering careers and feedback from the panel suggested that not enough is being done to highlight and emphasise the non-university pathways into this sector. 

One option is an apprenticeship scheme, which offer the chance to develop skills through a combination of practical work and study, with clear opportunities for advancement and career progression from day one. 


Find out more about Girls Takeover in the UK and US