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People in Energy – Raising the bar

People in Energy – Raising the bar

 

Bridging two of the most prominent divides in the energy industry, Environmental Scientist Rachel Meacock is tackling the sticky issue of diversity in the Energy sector head-on while simultaneously undertaking the competition for the Miss Galaxy UK title. Although a newcomer to the industry, Rachel knows all too well the often conflicted approach people hold towards the dichotomies of beauty and science but feels her unique past-time presents an opportunity to help “push forward”  the industry in shaping a culture which allows women to express their full selves, regardless of which area of the industry they work.

A marine biologist with a keen interest in marine planning for sustainable development Rachel is clear about her objectives as a scientist;

“my goal is to get behind the energy transition and help push it forward; the UK has such amazing policy to work with and is in a strong position to help balance carbon emissions in comparison to other countries.” But, as pragmatic as she is optimistic, Rachel acknowledges that there is yet an abundance of work to be done to propel the UK’s sustainability sector forward to make the transition from oil and gas a reality.

Reflecting on her journey to date, Rachel has found her determined expression of her personal choice and identity a challenge, but this is not an issue exclusive to the Oil and Gas sector;

“Many of the girls studying sciences at university believed that they needed to be plain to be taken seriously…. There was a perception, [among fellow students] that because I was doing my hair and putting on make-up that, somehow, this was time was wasted.  Society puts these big divides in the middle, and it’s hard to see where they cross over.” She said,

Her career as an Environmental Scientist has given her a different perspective to both equality and the Energy Transition explaining that “energy and sustainability aren’t seen to go together, but they can.” The same rules, she explains, can also apply to accept women in the industry regardless of the external choices they make.
 
Her foray into beauty pageantry stemmed from her pristine appearance and her love of hair and makeup. Rachel never expected pageants to become such a big part of her life. Yet, the unexpected opportunities it has created has given her greater fulfilment than she could have ever imagined. The stark contrast of beauty and science in a world which seemed determined to make her choose left many struggling to understand why she would choose to do both; “People are surprised that, as a scientist, this is something I am interested in, but for me, there is absolutely no reason for a woman to be told she can’t be both beautiful and a scientist.”
 
Rachel also found a strong support group within her colleagues saying; “Unlike my experience at university, I am very lucky. I work with amazing women, and we do stand together, we share our frustrations and celebrate together when we can.”

Despite the complexities of her role as a scientist, the occasional prejudice she, unfortunately, faces from some sectors of the industry, means that getting up on stage for pageants can be intimidating, noting the vulnerability that results from voluntarily putting yourself up for judgement.

Despite this, Miss Aberdeen Galaxy is rightly proud of her contribution to the city, and it’s resident population, undertaking a wide array of charity and community work, which is, she maintains, the greatest reward for the challenges that the role creates in her professional life. “It’s all about representing my city and giving something back for all its given me.” Currently, Rachel is working towards becoming a STEM Ambassador, further bridging the divide between her two roles; as a role model for young girls and encouraging diversity in the next generation of scientists. She is also working alongside local cancer charity, CLAN to fundraise for their vital cancer support services.
 
Regardless of others’ views and opinions, Rachel continues to find value in her work, whether volunteering as a STEM ambassador, helping our energy become more environmentally friendly, or being a leading light on the stage. With such a diverse set of challenges, Rachel relies on her hopes and ambitions to be the common thread weaving them together. Her aim to inspire other girls and women in the industry is underpinned by her determination to lead by example; a demonstration that having uncommon interests should by no means set you apart.
 
“Never give up on something that makes you entirely who you are” She continues with undeniable optimism. “Never let anyone pressure you into thinking you will be taken less seriously by being yourself. Address things as they happen and challenge them. And, most importantly, be supportive of the women around you. We need to stick together.”
 
‘Transition’ may be the latest buzz word in the industry but it’s delivery lies in the hands of the developing workforce to create a cultural shift that will support it. Rachel’s contrasting roles in society is just one of many examples of positive change that can result from encouraging a greater sense of self-worth and identity, of ourselves and each other. Rachel is already tomorrow’s woman, setting the pace for a changing world. It’s the industry’s job to keep up.

Published: 09-03-2020

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