York research cluster receives international recognition for working to advance sustainable development goals

Photo 1: Samiha Tahseen, Jessica Caporusso, Runa Das, Christina Hoicka, Laura Tozer, Amy Bilton, Bronwyn Lazowski, Jessie Ma (co-founders of WISER)

A research cluster based out of York University’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies has been announced as the 125th signatory to the Equal by 30 Campaign. The WISER (Women and Inclusivity in Sustainable Energy Research) Network was selected for its unique role and focus on supporting, connecting and profiling women in academia researching sustainable energy, thereby advancing the core goals of the Equal by 30 campaign.

The WISER Network was co-founded in 2017 by Christina Hoicka, assistant professor in Sustainable Energy Economics at York University. Hoicka is currently on the Steering Committee.

Co-founders of WISER Network: Samiha Tahseen, Jessica Caporusso, Runa Das, Christina Hoicka, Laura Tozer, Amy Bilton, Bronwyn Lazowski and Jessie Ma

The Equal by 30 Campaign is part of the Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment Initiative (C3E), which works to: advance the participation of women in the clean energy transition; close the gender gap; and accelerate a sustainable energy transition by accessing a wider, deeper talent pool. It is a joint Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and International Energy Agency (IEA) initiative.

The campaign is focused on advancing Sustainable Development Goals 5 – Gender Equality; and 7 – Affordable Clean Energy, with its principles and goals outlined as: equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities. Signatories to the campaign are selected for promoting the campaigns principles, and include governments, international associations, companies and organizations.

Recent U.K.-based research outlines that the challenges for women in energy research are particularly acute, with a significant drop-off in participation between those in PhD and senior levels, as well as under-representation in principal investigator roles. WISER Network members, as leaders of their field, seek to advance leadership among its members by facilitating an interdisciplinary network of academic women researching sustainable energy in order to help overcome career and research biases in the academy. WISER does this by encouraging and promoting sustainable energy research by women through publications, collaborations and grant applications, and by providing a platform for researchers to connect with interested non-members interested in their work, all of which contributes to accelerating innovation and enhance the energy transition.

According to Equal by 30, the energy sector is one of the most gender imbalanced in the world, and also the most responsible for carbon emissions. Women account for as little as 10 per cent of the energy workforce overall. A higher percentage of women work in renewable energy than the broader energy sector; however, available statistics suggest women are still significantly underrepresented in the renewable energy sector with reported percentages between 25 and 32 per cent.

About WISER Network

WISER Network members at York University are Professor Magdalena Krol, civil engineering; Professor Marina Freire Gormaly, mechanical engineering; Colleen Kaiser, PhD candidate environmental studies; Susan Wyse, Phd student environmental studies; and Jessica Capporusso, PhD candidate anthropology. Other York affiliations include Runa Das, professor at Royal Road and former post-doctoral researcher at Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies; and MES alumni Rebecca Black and Jennifer Taylor.

WISER Network has close to 60 members globally, made up of PhD candidates, academic researchers and professors, and continues to grow. WISER Network works with key partner organizations, such as Women in Renewable Energy, and has received funding and support from the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), NSERC, as well as Informed Opinions, an organization that advances equal representation of women in the media.