© Jessica Cook

Women of the Arctic Council: Guri Storaas

14 March 2024
In honor of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we spoke with some women who work with the Arctic Council to learn more about their important work, opportunities and challenges for women in their field and their advice for young women.

© Guri Storaas

Guri Storaas is Deputy Director General at the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment and Chair of the Arctic Council’s Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane (EGBCM).

In this interview, Guri shares how curiosity drives her career, why her upbringing in the Norwegian outdoors made her move to Africa for some years, and what her one solid advice to young women is.

You have worked in South Sudan and Kenya with gender and youth. Now you work on climate and environmental topics. What drives your professional development and your career?

Curiosity. I’ve been open to new experiences and challenges when they have emerged. Plus, I find it very hard not to be motivated to do my best to reduce climate change.

Can you pinpoint a pivotal point in your career or life that has led you to where you are today – and would you be willing to share it with us?

I grew up in a family that spent every weekend either kayaking, picking mushrooms or skiing, all depending on the season. When I was in my early twenties, I was tired of the solitude of the forests and lived some years in South Africa, Kenya and South Sudan. I think both the closeness to the Nordic nature and making friends with people who were affected negatively by climate change made me eager to work with environmental issues.

You are leading a section at the Ministry of Climate and the Environment – how would you describe your leadership style/values?

I strive to facilitate a pleasant and safe work environment, with high level of trust.

What do you think are current challenges and opportunities for women in government roles?

Norway is one of the world’s most gender equal countries. I had just returned from 8 months paid maternity leave with my third child, when I was offered a managing role. My kids are in good and affordable kindergartens. My male partner believes he does most of the household chores, and I believe it is me. I guess that means we split it quite equal.
Women are however underrepresented at all levels of decision-making worldwide. I’m sure that also counts for government roles. Also, the salary is often lower than for male colleagues. If I were to pinpoint one thing, I believe a system where both women and men take parental leave is key to increase women participation also in government roles.

Do you have a piece of advice for young women who are interested in pursuing a career in government affairs?

Ask for higher salary.