Women in Geothermal Sciences: a Visual Ethnography

Project title: Women in Geothermal Sciences: a Visual Ethnography
Partners: UNU-GEST, Women in Geothermal (WinG) and Bless bless Productions5
Timeframe: May 2015 to December 2018
Project lead: Dr. Giti Chandra, UNU-GEST Project Manager

UNU-GEST teamed up with Women in Geothermal (WinG) and Bless Bless Productions to create a documentary about gender equality in geothermal energy sector. The project follows women working in the geothermal energy sector in different geographic and cultural locations and is based on a series of interviews and original footage. The gender imbalances and inequalities which are currently present in the geothermal energy production sector, among other male-dominated sectors, hinder the effectiveness and ability of staff and organizations to reach their full potential. Often times, existing gender stereotypes and inequalities are perpetuated by the failure to acknowledge them. 
This documentary film and social research project is intended to be the first critical step towards raising awareness about the issue within and outside of the geothermal sector. Its findings can be easily applied to other sectors where gender imbalances are present. The project covers a wide range of countries, including Japan, Iceland, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mexico, and New Zealand. The aim is to highlight contextual differences and the fact that full gender equality has not been reached within the sector in any of these countries.

WING3The end result will be a research-inspired documentary that explores experiences of women in the fast-emerging geothermal energy field, and what equality in the workplace looks like to them. These women are at different points in their lives, education and career trajectories, residing and working in different countries. The variety of their experiences and perceptions of obstacles to gender equality in their professional field will be captured to demonstrate the multifaceted barriers for career advancement and personal/social empowerment.

Since November 2016 filming and fieldwork in Ethiopia, Kenya, and New Zealand took place, as well as research and development of storyline for filming in Iceland and Japan.
Filming in New Zealand took place in November 2017 as WinG was launching a campaign for gender equality in recognition that action must be taken to support and empower women in asserting themselves in their workplace in order to achieve equal status with their male colleagues and to realize future leadership goals for women in the geothermal field. The participants of the campaign were required to come up with a concrete list of demands for their employers that would make their professional and personal life easier and improve their overall position compared to their male colleagues. Then they will go to their managers and demand a clear response to their demands, even if it is a “no”. This served as an exercise for women to assert themselves in their workplaces and partially inspired the research project.
The project was awarded 10 million ISK grant from the Icelandic Equality Fund in 2016, as well as Watanabe and Sasakawa research and cultural exchange grants for the part of the project that is set out to take place in Japan in early 2018.
You can check out our information video here.