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BC Women Thriving in a Vibrant, Sustainable Energy Industry

by Jessica McIlroy

MP Elizabeth May, Mayor Diane Watts, and Chief Kim Baird have all spoken at a BC Women in Energy Network (BC WEN) because they recognise the importance in supporting women’s leadership and involvement in the industry. These high profile supporters of the BC WEN are only a small part of the community of women, and men, who have taken part in events to educate and connect those interested in the energy industry.

I founded the BC WEN in late 2010 after years of my own experiences in the energy industry, being one of the few women in the room, looking for ways to connect with female leaders, and learning about the gender issues that still exist for women in the workplace.  Our mission in the BC WEN is to create a connected, inclusive community that supports the success of women in the BC energy sector, and we are doing this by serving as a vehicle for learning, discussion, skill development, and networking.

As in other “non-traditional” sectors, certain areas of the energy industry remain predominantly male. The BC WEN isn’t focused on just increasing the numbers of women; it really is about ensuring there is a workplace of gender neutrality. While significant advances have been made, there are still some areas to work on. A formal network provides a place for discussion on women’s concerns in the workplace, a chance to network in a different type of environment, and the chance to make connections to mentors and role models who can support women with their career goals.

In order to achieve the vision of the BC WEN and truly serve its purpose, the BC WEN remains as highly active as possible. Events are held almost every month, focusing on the themes of networking, education and leadership. Networking events create opportunities for guests to have meaningful interactions and learn about new opportunities.  

Educational events focus on the industry, without any focus on gender, and are often attended by men! These events can range from panel speaker sessions and keynote speakers, to the very popular site visits of places such as district energy systems, biogas facilities, green buildings and energy-to-waste plants.

The leadership events are generally either a luncheon or breakfast event with a keynote speaker who is a leader in the energy field, such as Tzeporah Berman and Teresa Conway, or a workshop to help women develop their own leadership skills.

The BC WEN will continue to works towards its vision of BC women thriving in a vibrant, sustainable energy industry, and we invite everyone to get involved. A clean and sustainable energy industry requires all BC citizens to be aware of where our energy comes from and how it is used. A gender neutral and inclusive workplace requires men and women to address the challenges and focus on the opportunities. We look forward to seeing you at a BC WEN event!


PS If you are of the non-male gender, and you work in the energy field, anywhere in the province, from Cranbrook to Dawson Creek, we'd love to hear from you! Our membership details are here

The BC WEN is hosting a tour of the FortisBC Fraser Valley Biogas facility in Abbotsford on November 26th at 1:30 pm.

Fraser Valley Biogas utilizes on-farm manure and off-farm food waste to produce methane and high quality fertilizer through a process of anaerobic digestion. The methane is scrubbed and transported to thousands of homes throughout British Columbia by Fortis BC. The fertilizer is used by farmers to grow local crops.

The tour is free but space is limited. Please email jessica.mcilroy@bcwen.ca if you would like to attend.