Women in Power Sector

Women in power copy

Women in India form a significant percentage of the overall workforce in unorganized sectors like agriculture and construction but their participation in organized sectors is limited. For example, women representation in India’s Public-Sector Undertakings (PSU), which constitutes a large employment base in the country spread across key organized sectors, constituted only 4.5% of the total Work Force (2011). Similarly, women employees in Central Public-Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) in India stood at 9.36 per cent in 2015-16, according to data released by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). The male dominance in the workforce of CPSE is often attributed to the nature of operations i.e. infrastructure and heavy engineering sectors. Such low gender representation in this large employment segment of the economy requires remediation as none of these segments is outside the reach of women.

USAID’s Greening the Grid (GTG), a five-year program under United States and India’s Partnership to Advance Clean Energy-Deployment (PACE-D), aims to support the Government of India’s (GOI) efforts to manage large-scale RE integration into the Indian power system. As a part of its commitment to promote gender equality and equity in all its programs, USAID through the GTG-RISE initiative (the central component of GTG) will work to improve gender inclusiveness in India’s energy utilities sector.

To maximize women’s participation and to strengthen gender diversity and equity in the power sector, a forum or platform will be created, called Women in Power Sector or WIPS, for women representatives from the sector to engage with each other across a range of possible issues. The WIPS will be housed within the Forum of Load Despatchers (FOLD) of India, a centralized forum with representatives from different load dispatch centers (LDCs), and supported by GTG-RISE initiative. It will engage system operators on gender sensitivity and enhance the skills of women system operators through knowledge exchange and sharing. The WIPS will also identify
women leaders in power sector and highlight their contributions so as to motivate aspiring qualified women to opt for careers in Indian power utilities.

Women Leaders in Energy

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Axilium Jayamary
Director – Operation, TANTRANSCO.

Jayamary. A is currently serving as the Director – Operation in Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Limited (TANTRANSCO), she is the first woman Director in the Tamil Nadu State Power Transmission Utility. After completing her Bachelors of Engineering (BE) in Electronics & Communication from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, she started her career with Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) as an Assistant Engineer in 1985. After a while, she took sabbatical, and completed her Masters in Engineering (ME) in Instrumentation Engineering from Anna University and joined back TNEB as Assistant Executive Engineer in 1996. Apart from many of her contributions at TNEB, Jayamary remained instrumental in developing the methodology and formulating procedures for the Open Access transactions in ABT (Availability Based Tariff) division.

In 2015, she was promoted as Chief Engineer of Grid Operation, wherein she contributed significantly to the grid operations when the state was incorporating significant amount of RE in its power system. She was not only credited for proactively adopting steps for grid integration of RE in Tamil Nadu but she also showed exemplary leadership during 2015 deluge in Chennai, Wardah cyclone in 2016 and the Okhi cyclone in 2017 and bringing back the operations into normalcy within 24 hours of climatic disruptions. During her tenure as Director/ Operation, Tamil Nadu State Load Despatch Centre was awarded to be the “Leading State Load Despatch Centre” in the country for its commendable role in integrating Renewable Energy effectively during 2017.

How do you view your career? What excites you the most about your journey to your present position at the TANTRANSCO?

After completing my Bachelors, I started my career in energy sector with TNEB where I joined as an Assistant Engineer. For almost a decade, I served at TNEB at different positions but later decided to pursue my ME in Instrumentation. Pursuing Masters in the middle of my professional career was not an easy decision but it proved to be a turning point in my career. After completion of ME, I joined back as an Assistant Executive Engineer and today I am here at this position after many years of hard work and challenges. At TANTRANSCO, I worked in different departments covering a wide spectrum of topics including transmission planning. I had all the opportunity to represent my organisation at various energy forums and technical committees at state, centre and international levels. In a nutshell, the journey has been very fulfilling, enriched with wonderful colleagues and mentors who have been very cooperative. I must also acknowledge the support extended by my family to pursue my professional career and without their support, the whole journey would have not been possible.

How can the power sector, which has traditionally been male-dominated, improve its gender diversity i.e. have better representation of women at all levels, especially in the area of system operation?

Improving the gender balance in organization leadership is not only laudable but also necessary to succeed in its ongoing efforts to develop more efficiency and stability in the organization. Leadership needs to interrogate the notion of flexible work options when performance is often judged by the capacity to meet unrelenting workplace demands that see women, in particular, working at all hours to meet deadlines. In contrast to traditional work arrangements, flexible hour schedule needs to be incorporated that would assist women to balance their work and family requirements. Empowering women in India is necessary to bring gender equality or we can say that gender equality is necessary to empower women.While men are judged on their potential, women tend to be judged on their performance alone which needs to be changed. Many women are joining at various levels in the Indian power sector and this is especially true in the Southern states. I feel the most significant gap is in the role of women at the management level in the power sector, where as they are taking up more leadership role in other sectors.

First and foremost, women’s enrolment in technical institutions needs to be encouraged by demonstrating that career in power sector can be as fruitful as the service sector with significant representation of women. Secondly, the policies and practices in energy companies and institutions should be such that it supports women inclusiveness. There are many such examples set by the multinational companies providing provisions of flexible timing, work from home options, etc. I truly believe that women leadership in the energy sector is a prerequisite towards building a strong and sustainable taskforce. We need to encourage, educate and engage them to ensure that there is larger women representation in power operations.