This article discusses diversity in the renewable energy sector and features one woman’s input. Rachell Coffey has transitioned from construction and administration into the wind power industry. She is passionate about the environment.
This year, Rachell started working as a Wind Turbine Technician for Vestas.
Working as a Wind Turbine Technician for Vestas and championing diversity
Working in a team
What advice would you give a woman working in an all-male or substantially male team?
The best thing that you can do in any job role is to show the people you work with, that you care about their safety, that you’re willing to work and learn, and open to constructive criticism.
Gender aside, work is best achieved under conditions where you feel safe and knowledgeable with the task at hand. Understanding that a team depends on each other to work safely together, and that all need to share the same knowledge to achieve the same goal is the highest priority.
Never be afraid to ask questions, as many times as you need, to understand the work you will be doing.
Supporting women and diversity in the renewable energy sector
Can you give an example of a technique you have used?
I have made it a priority to find male advocacy in my workplace. Although, I am currently the only woman on site, I feel lucky to have a lot of support on site. If I have questions about a task or I am unsure of something, I reach out to those who have helped support my learning and training. Then I can get the help I need quickly to complete the task I have questions about.
The Women of Vestas
How do you support other women?
My company has a community called The Women of Vestas and it is through this community that I have received abundant support from women. As well, I have had the opportunity to support them in turn. We have monthly meetings where we build Allyship by getting to know each other and learning the different ways we could all use support.
We recently attended a WRISE (Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy) leadership event where we had the opportunity to meet many women from the renewable energy field. Together we supported and educated each other through speaker meetings and small group sessions. Having the opportunity to engage in this large community provided networking opportunities to continue to support one another as women in our respective industries.
Resources to encourage diversity in the renewable energy sector
Are there any resources you would recommend? Who else can help?
For women who work in wind, I have found it very helpful to engage in small groups created by other women who work in wind.
Through LinkedIn I was able to connect with a group that was designated as a safe place for women in the wind industry to come together and discuss different aspects of our jobs and roles in this industry. I have received tremendous support from them, and I know that if I was ever in need of help or support, I could find it with them. Because our role as women is still relatively new in the renewable energy field, it’s important for us to all consider other ways we could create resources for one another, and to help the ones who will soon be joining the industry as well.
How do you personally prepare yourself before an important meeting or presentation?
By being proactive, rather than reactive.
For me this means, planning ahead of time. That means making sure I do the research and have the information I need ahead of the meeting. As well, asking a colleague to review my work and provide insight on things I may need to change. I always make sure that I get enough sleep the night before an important presentation. Finally, doing a practice run of the presentation ensures I can provide the information in an effective manner.
Hiring women and encouraging diversity in the renewable energy sector
How do you encourage your company to hire more women?
Fortunately, my company is very supportive in regard to regarding hiring diverse groups of people, especially women.
I try to help support this movement by being active in our Women of Vestas groups, as well as taking mentorship opportunities, and Allyship meetings.
Having a space where women feel supported and welcomed can help retain the women who are working here already, as well as the women who have yet to be hired. I think that women need to be encouraged directly by knowing there is a group to support them, and by watching others lead by example.
I believe fear of the unknown in many aspects hinders women from wanting to work in this industry. By identifying challenges women face and helping to overcome them, I hope to see more women joining the industry.
Clothing advice to women
What PPE clothing and footwear advice would you give to other women?
I would recommend trying on different sized men’s clothing and footwear to gauge correct sizing between women’s and men’s. We need to do this until more options are created for women.
At the end of the day what is most important is safety, so having something that fits comfortably and provides the necessary safety is the highest priority.
Other women turbine technicians with the knowledge and motivation would be great leaders in the PPE industry as well. So, my secondary advice would be for women to come together and design more PPE which is designed for the fit and comfort of women with the knowledge of what works best within our industry.