Role of DAFNI in the ISLANDER project:
Ismini, please tell us about your role in the ISLANDER project?
My role in ISLANDER is mainly related to the activities of WP8 Replication of Project Results. In particular, my organization DAFNI network is working on the preparation of replication plans in two Greek islands, Lefkada and Skopelos and their related archipelagos, Ionian Sea and Sporades islands namely. Additionally, I represent the project in BRIDGE activities, an initiative of the European Commission to encourage interactions between H2020 projects. This includes participation in bimonthly web meetings and annual general assemblies which this year I had the pleasure to attend on-site.
What has been most exciting in your work on the ISLANDER project so far?
As my organization is mostly involved in the replication stage which is becoming more intense now, I believe that the most exciting moment is on the way! I am also thrilled to see the smart IT platform going live as well as the seawater district heating network in Borkum as they entail most of the innovative aspects of ISLANDER.
If I had to choose, the most exciting moment so far was meeting the ISLANDER partners in person during our second physical GA in Leuven. After so many online meetings it was about time to meet the people with whom I have been working since the beginning of the project.
What inspired you to work in the field of renewable energy?
During my studies in chemical engineering, I realized that we need to turn into alternative sources of energy (other than fossil fuels) in response to the emerging effects of climate change. In contrast to the “traditional” job profile of a chemical engineer, I chose to move towards a more sustainable career path and… a few years later here I am!
Did you ever face difficulties within your career due to gender bias?
I cannot tell that I have really faced any difficulties however we clearly see at least in my country that women are not often adequately represented in the sector.
What actions does your company take to support Gender Diversity?
In contrast with the general situation in Greece, my company, DAFNI network is very gender balanced. To be precise, more than 60% of the employees are women at the moment. Talking about the actions taken, we try to create gender balanced panels or events we are hosting and when it comes to projects and proposal submissions, we are looking to involve employees of both genders. Lastly, when it comes to citizen engagement activities, we are encouraging the participation of local women stakeholders, associations and cooperatives.
What other measures should, in your opinion, be adopted in companies to promote gender diversity?
As our ISLANDER colleague, Elodie Courtois has mentioned, our society needs to start encouraging gender diversity at a very early stage. This means to empower teenage women to follow more “male-dominated” study fields such as engineering or computer science. Later, this will have a positive impact in the distribution of equal roles in the professional environment.
Another important measure concerns maternity/paternity benefits. Women (and men) should be supported more if they want to raise children and give both the option either to stay home for some time or get child assistance in case they prefer going back to work.
Lastly, any sexist behavior including gestures or verbal harassment should be strictly prohibited and punished if observed.