IHA has joined forces with GWNet to create Women In Sustainable Hydropower (WISH), a space where women in, and interested in, a career in hydropower can connect, share experiences and provide support to other women. This will help guarantee the development of a gender-balanced sector that makes the most of 100% of the global workforce available for driving the clean energy transition. Find out more here.

Case study one

Leticia Almeida

Meet Leticia Almeida, Legal Department Coordinator from the Jirau Hydropower Plant (HPP), located on the Madeira River, in the State of Rondônia, in Northern Brazil. 


Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at ENGIE 

Hello! My name is Leticia Almeida and I'm 32 years old. I'm married to Ulisses, and have two children, Lourenço and Catarina. I joined Jirau in 2020 as a junior lawyer and, over the years, I advanced to the position of Legal Department Coordinator. Located on the Madeira River, in Rondônia, Jirau Energia is one of the largest hydroelectric plants in the world in terms of number of turbines. It is also the 4th largest electricity generator in Brazil and has been contributing to the sustainable generation of renewable energy in the Amazon for a decade. ENGIE is one of Jirau's main shareholders, reinforcing our commitment to clean and sustainable energy.

Tell us more about the work ENGIE is doing to ensure gender equality in the workplace and how you have benefited.

Since 2023, I’ve had the privilege of actively participating in the female leadership development program 'Empowering Women in Leadership', promoted by ENGIE. This program brings together women from all over South America, from different companies in the group and with a wide range of experiences and skills in different areas of activity.

The main objective of this training is to coach and strengthen female leaders, aiming to further improve our talents and enable us to support other women in the sector. The experience has been truly transformative, providing an enriching environment full of discoveries and meaningful learning. The opportunity to share experiences and challenges with other managers has been invaluable, providing precious insights and a sense of community and support.

During the program, we participate in a variety of workshops with specific themes, such as mindsets and beliefs, communication, and leadership with a personal vision, in which we have the opportunity to debate and deconstruct limiting ideas. Individual and group sessions with specialized coaches have been fundamental to our personal and professional growth. In particular, a highlight for me was the individual session in which I had the opportunity to analyze my profile with a coach, discussing areas for improvement and identifying my own areas of strength.

This initiative by ENGIE reflects a genuine commitment to valuing female leadership, going beyond simply placing women in prominent positions. The program invests in preparation, training and, above all, in attentive listening to women, thus creating a solid environment in which we can grow, evolve, and reach increasingly higher positions.

As a direct beneficiary of this program, I can confidently say that it not only strengthens my leadership skills, but also empowers me to be an agent of change and inspire other women to achieve their professional goals. 

As a successful female role model for other women interested in working in the hydropower industry what advice would you give them? 

My advice to other women interested in entering this field is to be present and engaged, without being afraid to speak up and defend their views. It is crucial that women recognize the value of their presence and contribution in an industry historically dominated by men. Having confidence in your skills and knowledge is essential to face the challenges and opportunities that arise in the workplace. Additionally, seeking mentors and support networks within and outside the industry can be extremely beneficial for one's professional and personal growth. Always remember that your voice and perspective are important and deserve to be heard. By standing up firmly and authentically, women can play a significant role in transforming culture and promoting gender equality in the hydropower industry, as they also have the ability to open doors for other groups, not only focusing on gender equity.

Why do you think the industry has historically fallen behind in establishing female representation and how do you think this can be changed so we no longer need to have these conversations? 

Our industry has historically faced significant challenges in promoting female representation due to a number of factors rooted in organizational culture and social structures. Firstly, the traditionally masculine nature of the workplace in sectors such as hydropower has created barriers to women's entry and advancement.

However, it is encouraging to see that companies like Jirau and ENGIE are taking active steps to change this reality. One of the main strategies is the implementation of programs and initiatives designed to promote gender equality and the appreciation of female leaders. These measures not only address existing gender inequalities, but also create an enabling environment for women's professional growth and development.

To permanently change this situation and eliminate the need for conversations about female representation, it is crucial that there be continued commitment from companies, government and society at large. By promoting a culture of respect, equality and opportunity for all, regardless of gender, we can build a future where conversations about female representation become obsolete, and where women and men can contribute equally to the success and sustainable growth of all sectors of the industry.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Jirau and ENGIE for recognizing and actively supporting the advancement of women in their careers. It is truly inspiring to be in an environment where female potential and talent are not only recognized but genuinely valued.

It is a great satisfaction to know that I am part of a corporate culture that promotes diversity and equal opportunities, where my professional trajectory is not only respected, but also encouraged and celebrated.

May this continued support for women's careers inspire other organizations to follow the same path, creating truly inclusive and empowering work environments for everyone. Together, we can accomplish even greater achievements and build a future where gender equality is a reality in all sectors of society.


Case study two

Inna Kremza

Meet Inna Kremza, Manager of the OTO Engineering, Experts and HyService team for Voith in North America, located in Oakville city in province of Ontario, Canada.


Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Voith 

I have had a very exciting career in the Hydro Industry for 27 years, 24 of them being at Voith. My professional experience has primarily been with engineering teams. My role has been constantly evolving and developing from a design engineer to leading the engineering teams and managing the Hydro School in North America. I am an expert in my field, but I always have an appetite to learn and do more. From developing training courses to overseeing Voith’s Diversity Team, my career keeps me busy, but my family is what drives me the most. Being a mother and grandmother of two young girls is the greatest treasure, and I can’t wait to see how these little women can change the world.

Tell us more about the work Voith is doing to ensure gender equality in the workplace and how you have benefited. 

I have found that the most effective way to make a difference in the workplace is to be involved. I became engaged with the Diversity team more than 10 years ago, organizing and participating in special events for “Women in Hydro”. To change the leadership in the company I became one of the Culture Ambassadors. I have experienced being the only woman in engineering to shaping the new generation of “Women in Engineering”. 

As a successful female role model for other women interested in working in the hydropower industry what advice would you give them? 

My best advice is always: learn about yourself, know your value, choose the profession you will love and build a career with your company. Break out of your comfort zone, ask questions, try new things and never be afraid to push boundaries.

Why do you think the industry has historically fallen behind in establishing female representation and how do you think this can be changed so we no longer need to have these conversations? 

Voith as a company has a responsibility to create a better workplace and better policies but it is up to us to create the biggest impact and momentum in our lives. Take initiative, make a change and get involved. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My best wishes and admiration to the incredible women at Voith who continue to break barriers, inspire others, and shape the future. In my career I have not only seen myself succeed, but I have seen many incredible women thrive and inspire me to continue grow. 

Case study three

Alexandra Saary

Meet Alexandra Saary, Head of Commercial and Contract Management at Voith Hydro North America in Canada


Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Voith

My name is Alexandra Saary and I started with the Voith Group in February 2007 as an Internal Auditor, responsible for traveling to and auditing our worldwide subsidiaries. This was a great opportunity to get to know our Voith colleagues, as well as our markets, products, and customers. Following this role, I worked for two years as Division Controller for Voith Paper, and subsequently moved in 2012 to Montreal as Controller for our Canadian operations. 

Although I always enjoyed the analytical side and the broad company perspective of finance and controlling, I wanted to work more closely with our customers. In 2016, I accepted the role of Commercial Manager, which allowed me more insight into the customer’s reality and our approach to hydropower projects. As of May 2023, I am responsible for both areas of commercial management in Canada – proposals and contract management. I also completed the McGill-HEC Executive MBA program in Montreal in February 2024.

Tell us more about the work Voith is doing to ensure gender equality in the workplace and how you have benefited.

Voith has recognized the importance and advantages of gender balance and has taken action to support women in having equal opportunities. Excellent groups such as Women@Voith bring women together to support and advise each other, which is a crucial part of success. However, more still needs to be done especially as we look up the leadership pipeline and see a stark decline in female representation. Women need role models, opportunities to have an impact on results, mentorship and sponsorship, and a clear development path forward to support retention and bring change to the current situation. 

Voith has several programs in place to support school-age girls in developing their interest in STEM fields and pursuing careers in engineering. This in turn increases the hiring pool of female candidates. In every hiring process, companies need to make a concerted effort to seek out female candidates. Its also important that job postings use inclusive language and ensure that they are formulated in a gender-neutral manner. 

As a successful female role model for other women interested in working in the hydropower industry what advice would you give them?

Hydropower is the most reliable and powerful carbon neutral energy technology available on the market to date. It’s exciting to be a part of making the world a greener place and playing a role in the achievement of the global objectives for decarbonization! 

Personally, I enjoy working together with a variety of people including engineers and visiting manufacturing facilities as well as hydropower production sites. There are many important roles in the hydropower industry, and you don’t have to be an engineer. Finance, controlling, commercial and contract management, project management, business development, ESG management, operations management, and communications are just a few examples of important areas of work, where you can have impact on results and your career can grow. If being part of an industry that has a real impact on people’s everyday lives is interesting to you, then a career in hydropower could be very fulfilling.

Why do you think the industry has historically fallen behind in establishing female representation and how do you think this can be changed so we no longer need to have these conversations? 

The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics industries (i.e. STEM) are particularly affected with low rates of participation from girls in school, and women in higher education and the workforce. According to the American Association of University Women, engineering is the most male-dominated of all the STEM fields with only 15% female participation (2022). Therefore, companies like Voith are already struggling to find qualified women on the employment market. Subsequently women, who do enter engineering industries, are more often confronted with gender biases and need to fight persistently for acceptance in an industry that has been historically shaped by men. This makes attracting and retaining women more challenging than in other industries. At the same time, the next generation of women is already looking for companies and industries that model gender parity at all organizational levels.

In research that I conducted during my Executive MBA program; I came across major studies about why there are so few women in STEM. The root of the issue starts in gender stereotypes and biases – STEM fields are often regarded as areas where boys will excel, and both parents and teachers have had a historical tendency to underestimate girls’ math and science skills as early as their pre-school years. This results in filtering out a large portion of girls, who could study in STEM fields successfully. For the few women who do pursue education in STEM fields, the male-dominated work cultures tend to perpetuate inflexible and exclusionary work environments that are not supportive of or attractive to women and minorities.  

In my opinion, action needs to be taken on various levels. Once women are hired, it’s imperative that the company culture supports inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives. This also includes ensuring that programs are in place to support and advance women throughout their career development. Mentorship and sponsorship is also crucial, especially during important life moments. It’s important that women know they don’t have to choose between career and family, and that flexibility and support mechanisms are in place to help women progress if they want to. Companies have a major role to play in ensuring that women know they can be successful at balancing work and their personal lives. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Undoubtedly, more needs to be done to help girls enter the STEM industry and help women up the pipeline of organizational leadership, to have more role models, and change the current picture. I think a lot of initiatives are already on the right path. Initiatives such as this activity for International Women’s Day highlight the importance of the topic to the industry and play a role in supporting more change. 


Case study four

Madinah Binti Abang

Meet Madinah Binti Abang, General Manager for Contract & Procurement Governance, covering Procurement Governance, Assurance and Technology as well as Category Management and Strategic Sourcing at Sarawak Energy. 


Tell us about yourself and your role at Sarawak Energy. 

I am a professional accountant and a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK and a Chartered Member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants. I hold a master’s degree of Business Administration from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. I have more than 30 years of work experience in various industries, including electricity, investment holding, unit trust, construction, oil terminal, palm oil refinery, oil and gas port and timber. I have covered roles in accounting, auditing, taxation, company secretary, consultancy services, corporate finance, strategic planning and contract and procurement.

I joined Sarawak Energy in 2012 as the Senior Manager of the Strategy & Analysis Division for the Planning & Strategy Department, which is now known as Strategy & Corporate Development. I made the transition to the Contract & Procurement Department in 2018, leading the Procurement Transformation agenda. Currently, I am the General Manager for Contract & Procurement Governance, covering Procurement Governance, Assurance and Technology as well as Category Management and Strategic Sourcing. I am a pioneering member of the Sarawak Energy Leading Women Network (SELWN) and an Executive Committee member, leading the Mentoring Workstream.

How have you personally benefitted from the changes made by Sarawak Energy after the gender policies and action plan were implemented? 

I have benefitted from many learning opportunities that have an explicit focus on developing women leaders, with some key examples being the Global Women on Board programme that had modules about governance and leadership, as well as board dynamics. I also am currently mentoring some of my junior colleagues in Sarawak Energy.

Mentorships are a particularly big focus for Sarawak Energy to empower women employees and there are many programmes and initiatives to facilitate this, including the Women Mentoring Women (WMW) Programme under SELWN being a key highlight. Since its inception in 2019, 246 women have benefitted from this program. 

I – along with 11 other women in senior leadership positions – was appointed as a Board Member of one of Sarawak Energy’s subsidiaries, contributing to the National Target of 30% women representation in the boards of companies. This reflects Sarawak Energy’s commitment to tangible action relating to our gender and diversity aspirations. However, it is crucial to note that all affirmative actions in pursuit of equitability are merit based – the company recognises the merits of all its employees, regardless of their background. SELWN has also afforded me opportunities to participate in many talent management programmes, professional networking sessions, and a wide range of learning experiences.

Have you noticed an overall change in the company since then? And has more work been done in this space? 

Conversations about inclusivity and diversity have extended beyond just gender in Sarawak Energy. Age and ethnicity are also considered at the company, allowing for a greater holistic view of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness (DEI) in Sarawak Energy. It would be prudent to note that our approach to DEI in Sarawak Energy operates on both macro and micro-scales. 

For the former, we have our high-performance culture key focus area as well as our core values of courage, unity, respect, integrity, and accountability – also known as CURIA. These enabling frameworks provide our people with the necessary support and foundation to feel included and part of team Sarawak Energy. On the micro level, I have seen a shift in individual behaviours among all my peers. We actively seek to involve everyone, even with small gestures like getting some of our quieter colleagues to participate in meetings.

This is reflected in the various DEI initiatives and programmes that have been implemented to this point:

  • Hybrid working arrangement for flexible and remote working.
  • Key performance indicators that facilitate racial and gender balance for our Accelerated Development Plan.
  • Reserved parking lots for pregnant women and handi-capable employees.
  • A childcare centre – named Little Power Genius – for employees at Menara Sarawak Energy, our company headquarters, and at our Bakun premises.
  • A lactation room for women.
  • Places and platforms to encourage healthy living, including a creative breakout area, Sarawak Energy Recreation Centre, and the Sarawak Energy Employees’ Recreation Club.
  • Inclusive staff benefits, covering childbirth and medical benefits – including spouses, both women and men.
  • Training opportunities to develop and grow, both within and outside of Sarawak and Malaysia.

Sarawak Energy’s commitment to DEI also extends beyond our employees. In my experience as the General Manager of Contract & Procurement Governance, I have witnessed and been part of the Company’s efforts to help our vendors develop. Key examples of this include our LEAD23 programme, where we created awareness among our vendors of the importance of complying with sustainability requirements. By cultivating this understanding and getting them voluntarily on-board, we helped our vendors future proof their respective businesses – ensuring that they are ready to meet sustainability requirements and capitalise on growth opportunities.

As a successful female role model for other women interested in working in the hydropower industry, what advice would you give them? 

In an industry where most occupations – like engineers – were traditionally taken by men, it is not surprising to see that Sarawak Energy is predominantly male, something which is reflected in our leadership team. However, we have made strides since the formation of SELWN in 2017 – with more concentrated efforts and initiatives being planned to develop women leaders at all levels via talent management programmes, leadership development, professional networking, and exposure to learning opportunities. 

For other women in hydropower, I would recommend you make full use of platforms like SELWN to develop and grow. Women can sometimes question their own qualifications, doubting themselves. There is an element of self-sabotage when we overthink about all the ways we are not perfect for a job opportunity. Coupled with domestic and familial responsibilities, it can be difficult if not impossible to have work-life balance. However, we should not let this hinder our progress – there are ways to integrate both work and home without compromising performance. 

Why do you think the industry has historically lagged behind in establishing female representation and how do you think this can be changed so we no longer need to have these conversations? 

This lagging is tied to the lack of conscious conversations surrounding this inequity as well as the benefits of gender diversity in the past. As such, it is vital to promote open conversations on female representation in the hydropower industry and the general workforce as a whole, with concrete action plans to support this discourse. This must be driven from top management, who must be fully aligned with gender diversity – recognising its value to the organisation and business at large.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

I am very proud of Sarawak Energy’s efforts in pursuing DEI. A lot of work has been put in to support this initiative and we have received good feedback from our people via our annual Sarawak Energy Employee Survey.