My experience of the Women4Climate Conference in Paris – a blogpost for Women in LoLo by
MRes Student – UCL
Women make up half of the world’s population, yet the percentage of women in STEM as reported by PWC is just 15% in the UK. My path to engineering started towards my final school years where I pursued my strengths in maths and physics, which led me to do a BEng Engineering with Business Administration in a work-study placement with Bosch. I then went on to do my MSc Engineering with Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCL last year and did my thesis in peer-to-peer energy trading which led me on to study an MRes in the energy department which will turn into my subject area for my PhD. Last year, I participated in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Challenge, which is a competition for students and recent graduates with innovative business ideas to reduce carbon emissions in London, with a potential to win £20,000 to kick off their business. Together with my friend I entered the competition designing an RFID (radio-frequency identification) based device to allow better communication between cyclists and bus drivers to reduce the number of accidents, making cycling safer and therefore encouraging more people to switch to this mode of transport.
As part of London’s celebration of 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the UK, ten female participants were awarded a six months Women4Climate mentorship programme organised by C40 cities. C40 cities is a network of 94 cities around the world taking action on climate change. All contestants of the mentorship were matched with mentors from cooperates including Citi, L’Oreal, ELLE UK, Bloomberg, Transport for London, Gemserv, the London Waste and Recycling Board. I was lucky to have the Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, as my mentor and advisor, helping me to define and shape my ideas and work on my future career path. It was a unique opportunity to get to know Shirley, hear about her past and current career and gain an insight into London’s actions for better air quality, including the Ultra Low Emissions Zone to be launched this April.
On the 21 of February, I was given the honour to exhibit my current research project peer-to-peer energy trading at the annual Women4Climate Conference in Paris. Women4Climate participants included a mix of female entrepreneurs, researchers and activists fighting for a more sustainable future with incredible ideas and solutions from Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Quito, Montreal and London who travelled to Paris to take part in the three days programme for the mentees. During this period, I attended the conference, a tech challenge, various workshops and had the opportunity to talk to representatives from different companies and institutions from Paris to discuss ideas and receive advice.
I found the most inspiring part was attending the conference and hearing about the actions taken on climate change, and how it is often women who are most vulnerable to the detrimental effects of climate change in less structurally resilient regions. The day was filled with panel discussions, presentations by the Women4Climate mentees and keynote speakers. Mayors of Paris, Quito, Freetown, Sydney, Chicago, Charlotte, Dakar and Lisbon attended the conference presenting their current actions and milestones for the future. I was particularly impressed by the insights that Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, the first elected Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, was giving. With her project “Cleanest Zone Competition” the Mayor of Freetown encourages better waste disposal in her city. The prizes for the best city zones include solar-powered streetlights, water points, paved roads and more, showing that even small actions can have a significant impact on the environment and improve people’s lives and that developing countries take action, too. The conference attendees had a mix of people from different backgrounds and generations, including a Belgian high school activist Youna Marette, and Dr Vandana Shiva, an Indian scientist and environmental activist highlighted our impact on the climate and our responsibility to act.
The Women4Climate conference was an incredible experience for me to take part in. Despite the mentoring scheme ending soon, I am grateful for this opportunity and the lasting network I have made from it. The research we are conducting at LoLo CDT, both women and men, is contributing to the discussion around climate change identifying research gaps and potential solutions. I am especially happy that six out of seven students in my year are women, representing the changing times for women in tech, and that we all are striving for a better and more sustainable future.
Anna Gorbatcheva Women4Climate Profile: https://w4c.org/profile/london-anna-gorbatcheva