Women have traditionally been underrepresented in the energy sector. In order to examine further on this perspective and study changing trends in women’s roles and contributions in the renewable energy workforce, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective this January. This publication provides new insights on the importance of women’s participation in the renewable energy sector while highlighting the barriers they face, as well as possible policy measures to overcome those challenges.
Based on a global online survey conducted by IRENA, complemented by a review of existing literature, the study found that women in the renewable energy sector represent 32% of the full-time employees of responding organizations. This is higher than the 22% average in the global oil and gas industry and indicates a stronger share of the workforce in renewables. Nevertheless, the report points out that women’s participation in the renewable energy sector still remains under-represented and is concentrated more in administrative jobs rather than science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
In an effort to suggest policy measures in support of women in the modern energy sector, the survey also assessed the existence of barriers and addressed four categories of impediments for gender balanced employment, namely: 1) Stereotypes of gender roles due to ingrained cultural and social norms 2) Misperceptions of career pathways in STEM fields 3) Lack of access to career information and formal trainings, and 4) Unequal access to employment and career advancement.
The recommendations suggested in order to improve gender balance in the renewable energy employment included providing trainings in gender awareness, developing appropriate workplace policies and improving women’s access to education at all levels.
As the report explained, the renewable energy industry needs to engage more with women and retain their contributions on all levels to promote gender diversity. At the same time, it is also worthwhile to remember that achieving gender equality and access to affordable and clean energy are part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Promoting gender equality in the renewable energy sector is crucial in supporting this growing industry to draw a wider pool of talent. Furthermore, women’s participation is critical in this era of ongoing energy transformation driven by renewables to achieve sustainable development and benefit all of humanity, both men and women.
To learn more about IRENA and the publication, visit their webpage here: