Women in Sustainability Mentoring Programme


Sustainability is a topic crucial for the future of our planet. Yet, when it comes to climate, energy, and sustainability policy, occupational fields tend to be male-dominated.  

For example, according to the International Energy Agency, only in the European Union, the percentage of female senior officials and managers in the energy sector is far lower than in general economy (33%), with numbers in mining and extraction of petroleum and gas hardly exceeding 15%. For OECD countries, the percentage of women inventors also remains low, reaching only 15% across all technology domains, with environment-related technologies just below the average and in power generation only around 10%. According to the latest Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) report by UN Development Programme and the University of Pittsburgh, women’s participation in environmental protection ministries is among the lowest of the twenty policy areas examined and averages 33% globally - far from gender-balance. 

We want to contribute to changing this situation and therefore we are developing a Mentoring Programme designed for our female students to help them kick-start their professional career. 


The Women in Sustainability Mentoring Programme aims at providing students with orientation on careers in climate, energy, and sustainability policy and encouraging young women to enter often male-dominated professions. 

This initiative is designed for ?female-identified Hertie?School students of graduate programmes (MPP, MIA, MDS), demonstrating their?academic/research interest?in topics related to climate, energy or?sustainability as well as willing to?professionally develop?in these sectors. 

The Programme aims to explore the characteristics of the climate, energy, and sustainability scene in Germany and Europe, unpack the main trends in the field and explain entry requirements. Most importantly, we also want to address the main barriers limiting women's access to these industries and present professional women networks for mutual support and advice.  

We are impactful when the knowledge we develop enables more robust and integrated approaches to tackle societal challenges.



A small group of successful applicants will be meeting with female experts and practitioners to exchange in safe spaces on the challenges and opportunities of the sustainability scene. The Programme offers two such encounters over the academic year, one per semester. We hope to develop the programme by adding new formats and modules in the coming years.

If you want to join the programme in academic year 2021/22, please apply via the online form by 30 September 2021.

The first cohort of successful applicants will be announced on 15 October 2021.



Our mentors are senior female professionals in the field of climate policy, energy policy or sustainability, from Germany and Europe, with an established career path, cross-sectoral experience and leadership skills, willing to share their professional experiences. 

Dr. Brigitte Knopf is Secretary General of MCC. Her recent work focuses on the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the German and international level. Since September 2020, she is a member and deputy chairperson of the new Council of Experts on Climate Change appointed by the German government. In the context of the G20 process, she develops strategies how carbon pricing could support not only climate change mitigation, but also finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Before joining MCC in 2015, she was deputy head of the research domain Sustainable Solutions at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and head of the group Energy Strategies Europe and Germany. Brigitte Knopf is also interested in scientific policy advice and the design of the science-policy interface. From 2009 to 2011 she was Senior Advisor of the Technical Support Unit of the IPCC Working Group III for preparing the IPCC Special Report on Renewables. She is also contributing author in IPCC's Fifths Assessment Report of Working Group III on the Mitigation of Climate Change. She holds a PhD in physics. 


Jesse Scott is the International Director of the think tank Agora Energiewende. She leads Agora’s work on the energy transition beyond Europe in major and emerging economies, including energy systems research projects, collaborations with a global network of think tanks, and political strategy. Before joining Agora in February 2019, Jesse worked at the International Energy Agency in Paris where she was a lead author of the Agency’s pathbreaking report on the opportunities and risks of digitalising the energy system. Prior to that, she worked for fifteen years in Brussels on European Union energy and climate policy-making, including as Head of Climate and Environment for the electricity sector association Eurelectric and as organiser of cross-sector advocacy to strengthen the EU Emissions Trading System from 2011 to 2014. Jesse teaches at the Hertie School in Berlin on the theory and practice of influencing public policy, with a focus on climate policies and the EU Green Deal, and at Edinburgh University in Scotland for the programme Carbon Management. She is an advisor to the World Economic Forum, the Climate Bonds Initiative, and the Florence School of Regulation. Jesse’s experience spans business, government, campaigning, law, and think tanks. She holds a degree and masters from Cambridge University and also studied in Italy at the European University Institute.