In November 2017, the Women’s Energy Network (WEN) opened its membership to men. WEN determined that allowing men to join the organization would not conflict with its mission of promoting, supporting and advocating for women in the energy industry. In fact, WEN hopes to encourage men who believe in its mission to feel comfortable participating in and contributing to the organization. Men should be part of the conversation to gain a greater understanding of the issues that women can face in the workplace, so they will be comfortable advocating, mentoring and developing women.
The business case is clear, and the statistics have been shared many times. The Peterson Institute for International Economics released a study in 2016 which posited that diversity, in general, leads to higher company performance. The study found that a single female CEO doesn’t necessarily equate to increased company performance, but a higher rate of diversity throughout the organization has a positive impact.
Women are painfully aware of the gender gap in leadership roles and differences in compensation that continue to exist. You may wonder, “What’s the point of discussing these points solely with other female colleagues?” We agree! Men need to be part of the conversation as well.
Some studies have attributed the gender pay gap to traditions and stereotypes, a balance of work-life responsibilities, and the value of women’s work is less than men’s. Education and awareness will help break down these unconscious biases and stereotypes that still exist. By working with men to increase a collective understanding, men and women can work together to close the gap.
Starting early to break barriers, providing more opportunities for boys and girls to work together in STEM-related activities can alleviate some of these biases. WEN encourages co-ed STEM events, recognizing the importance of boys and girls integrating early, so it is more natural when they enter higher/technical education and then the workforce. Let’s minimize, or better yet, eliminate, the bias before it starts!
Allowing men to join WEN has sparked conversation throughout the organization. With the welcome addition of male members, WEN hopes to increase awareness of the organization in the women’s energy community and encourage dialogue to end gender bias. WEN hopes having men openly participate in the organization will not only educate them on issues of women in energy but it will also expose them to a vibrant, talented community of female leaders across the value chain.
For more information about WEN, visit www.womensenergynetwork.org.