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My Journey as a Woman in Batteries: A Quest for Diversity & Empowerment

The managing director of Volta Foundation's Women in Batteries shares her journey in this guest editorial.

Nika Ptushkina, Managing Director, Women in Batteries, Volta Foundation; Technical Product Manager, PDF Solutions

March 6, 2024

4 Min Read
Women in Batteries meetup
Women in Batteries meetup at a recent 2024 industry conference, co-hosted with Lucy Li.Image courtesy of Women in Batteries

Stepping into the vibrant world of batteries, I see a landscape full of promise and innovation. From startups pushing the boundaries by commercialising new chemistries to established players driving EV adoption, there is so much opportunity. Yet amidst this atmosphere of progress, there is a glaring gap—a lack of diversity and female representation.

My personal experience in batteries has been full of excitement. I started out as the first employee at a software startup where I tackled just about every discipline within a company— from business development all the way to software engineering. This gave me the opportunity to explore the industry by visiting conferences and events, where I first encountered the feeling of unease and uncertainty that came over me when faced with the conspicuous absence of women in the room and on stage.

Conspicuous absence of women

The world of batteries is filled with friendliness, openness to new ideas, and positivity, and yet this early career experience reminded me of the barriers that still exist for women in our field. What a difference it would have made early in my career if I could just see two empowering women “talking batteries”.

Transitioning to a role as a technical product manager at PDF Solutions, I have delved deeper into the technical intricacies of battery manufacturing and the industry’s dynamic nature. This has made me increasingly aware of the need for greater diversity in the workforce. It’s not about checking boxes or meeting quotas I realized, but harnessing the entire spectrum of talent and perspectives women bring to a team. An ever-evolving and fast-paced industry like batteries can only benefit from diversity to drive progress quickly and continue to push for a cleaner future.

With this in mind, I knew I needed to make a change.

The 'Women in Batteries' project

Therefore, I founded the Women in Batteries project by Volta Foundation, aimed at empowering the leaders of our industry to create positive change. Through a series of virtual interviews, in-person conferences, and networking events, the Women in Batteries project seeks to amplify the voices of women in batteries and provide them with the support they need to succeed. We create a community where women feel valued, empowered, and inspired to not only to pursue a career in batteries, but to stay and grow in our field.

The community has grown to over 1,000 members on LinkedIn. One of the hallmarks being the Women in Batteries virtual interview series where trailblazing women like Barbara Hughes, Sarah Maryssael, Dee Strand, Shirley Meng, and Celina Mikolajczak share their experiences and insights. This series, with an average of 400 RSVPs, not only showcases the achievements of industry leaders, but enables women to connect and support each other and inspires them as they can envision themselves as leaders and changemakers.

Some feedback

It has been incredibly heartwarming to see young professionals have a better experience in batteries than I initially did.

Some amazing feedback received:

“I have so many new connections from just today that I cannot wait to speak to!”

“I always forget that Volta webinars are never just webinars.”

“It was inspiring watching / listening to [Dee] today.”

“Thank you so much … for the very meaningful conversation.”

And many more.

This positive feedback has left me in awe as I witness again and again the large and lasting impact that simply seeing women “talk batteries” and connecting with each other can have.

An industry at a critical juncture

The battery industry is at a critical juncture as it is still relatively young, but growing rapidly. We have the opportunity now to shape our industry culture for generations to come. We can forge a new path, unlike the traditional sectors that are rigid and lack diversity. Therefore, Women in Batteries is about more than just promoting diversity - it’s about fostering a culture of belonging and setting a baseline for battery companies to follow where everybody, regardless of gender, can thrive and excel. By showcasing amazing female talent to advocating for inclusive policies and practices, this project paves the way for a brighter, more equitable future.

By working together and supporting initiatives like Women in Batteries, we can build a future where everyone can succeed and drive our innovative industry to new heights. Let’s celebrate Women’s Day by embracing the spirit of empowerment and inclusivity to build a more diverse battery industry for all. I encourage you to join our community by following our LinkedIn page and attending our next virtual interview with Shirley Meng.

With all of us, in our innovative and growing battery ecosystem, working together, this positive change is not just possible—it’s inevitable.

About the Author(s)

Nika Ptushkina

Managing Director, Women in Batteries, Volta Foundation; Technical Product Manager, PDF Solutions

Nika Ptushkina leads Volta Foundation's Women in Batteries project with the goal to create a community of leaders to empower positive change. For her full time position, she is a technical product manager at PDF Solutions, a manufacturing analytics and process control company for semiconductors and batteries. Working closely with cell manufacturers, she has a passion for cell quality and helping factories ramp up quickly to help the battery industry grow."

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