Spotlight on Women in Mechanical Integrity: Marion Hill

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Posted on September 19

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We need more women in STEM leadership right now!

Marion Hill is the SVP for Renewables and Power Grid at DNV. She holds a degree in electrical engineering, but as you’ll find out below, you can’t put her in a box. She agreed to talk with us as a part of our ongoing Women in Mechanical Integrity series.

In her formative years, Marion Hill spent a lot of time outdoors practicing the philosophy “take only pictures and leave only footprints.” She is passionate about protecting nature and she wanted her career choice to reflect that, so renewable energy was a natural fit. However, Marion has another mission: empowering women and people of color in STEM careers. In this regard, Marion is fighting for us all.

Climate change is a huge priority for Marion. A few minutes of listening to her, and we’re ready to tackle it by her side. She points out that women bring a unique perspective to the problem. She explained that globally women are more likely to face the effects of climate change.

So, obviously, it’s critical that women are equally involved in dealing with climate change as men. To realize the benefits of women in STEM, we’re obviously going to need… more women in STEM. To Marion, it is clear this will require more women in leadership roles.

To achieve this, Marion believes we will need some pretty hefty realignment of policies and biases. The main bias that needs to be addressed is the pay and promotion gap: equity must be assured in order to tackle pervasive issues like climate change. In order to address these gaps, we in the US need to join the rest of the world and offer parental leave, and it should be available without stigma (another bias) to both parents. Normalizing parental leave after childbirth for either parent would allow women to return to work quicker, which will help bridge the pay gap, as well as enable women to lean into their professional ambitions.

Marion believes strongly that a woman should have the right to choose, and if she decides to have children, she should have access to affordable childcare; without this critical service, child rearing typically falls on women’s shoulders (yet another bias), which serves to widen the pay gap as it means less availability to travel, work late, etc. Beyond being affordable, child care needs to be easily obtainable, as women are often in charge of managing this service—and filling in any gaps in care, which, of course, continues to broaden the pay and promotion gap.

While the pay gap is often discussed, the promotion gap is perhaps more critical on a systemic level. Marion believes (and we concur) that we need equity in leadership as well as pay.

Marion has set out to achieve more diversity and equity on her team with 50% of the team made up of women and 40% people of color, making it ideal for addressing the climate crisis that disproportionately affects these groups. With this goal in mind, Marion does a lot to maintain a diverse team. She uses a job description decoder to check her job descriptions and make sure the language is attractive to women. She trains other managers to remove their biases, and she seeks talent who want to make an impact. The result? A super-strong team that can take on any challenge put before them.

By doing this hard work, Marion is (literally) being the change she wants to see in the world. We asked Marion for advice for young women who want to get into STEM, and she advised that young women find problems they want to solve and seek mentors who encourage them to bring their entire selves to work on challenges they are passionate about. She called on other women to encourage young engineers (and engineers-to-be) to remain curious, adaptable and driven. And she made sure to point out that we have to show young women that they can have an impact on these problems and be a part of the solution.

For an example of all of these, we suggest you look at Marion herself.

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