Women take the lead at Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research

In the general world of research, men are far more likely than women to occupy senior positions. But at the Norwegian Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) the tables are being turned: three of the eight research centres are headed by women.

The Research Council is pleased that its efforts are paying off. “We have worked long and hard to recruit more women to senior positions under our three centre schemes,” states Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Division for Strategic Priorities, which is responsible for administering the FME scheme.

Before the FMEs were established very few of the designated expert centres in Norway were headed by women. Of the 21 Centres of Excellence (SFF) only one is led by a woman. Similarly, only one of the 14 directors of the Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI) is a woman.

Societal impact important to women

“One important reason for the better gender balance under the FME scheme is probably that the environment and energy are fields that hold particular appeal for women. This ties in with the fact that women place greater importance than men on the social significance of their work,” says Special Adviser Dag Kavlie of the Research Council.

More Norwegian women choose courses of study within the field of energy and the environment than in most other science and technology subjects. At the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway’s largest educational institution for these subjects, the number of female and male students studying topics related to energy and the environment is nearly equal.

The women FME directors

The FME centres were established last year to focus on areas of strategic importance for Norway: offshore wind, solar cells, the development of environment-friendly hydropower, bioenergy, energy use in buildings and CO2 storage and management.

These are Norway’s women FME directors:

  • International CCS Research Centre (BIGCCS): Mona Jacobsen Mølnvik, SINTEF Energy Research. The centre carries out research on CO2 capture, storage and transport.
  • Norwegian Centre for Offshore Wind Energy (NORCOWE): Kristin Guldbrandsen Frøysa, CMR (Christian Michelsen Research). The centre conducts research on technology and solutions for offshore wind power generation.
  • The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB): Anne Grete Hestnes, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The centre conducts research on zero-emission buildings and buildings with low energy requirements.

Source: Research Council of Norway

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