Women make up roughly 32% of total employment in the renewable energy sector, corresponding to 22% in the more conventional oil and gas sector.
On the one hand, this shows that women are underrepresented in the energy industry. On the other hand, it shows that renewable energy provides an opportunity for change as a younger and more dynamic sector. With global greenhouse gas emissions connected to point at an all-time high in 2019 and 800 million people still without access to power, the world must continue to move toward greener energy sources.
Improved gender variety in the renewable energy sector will allow society to tap into more significant innovation potential to speed up this shift. However, women still have barriers to entering the renewable energy industry that must be solved to increase participation.
Women’s barriers in the renewable energy sector
Women’s engagement in this business is crucial for achieving gender equality and more significant economic, sociological, and environmental benefits. According to the International Monetary Fund, the productivity gains from reducing gender disparities across the economy could boost GDP by 35% on a macroeconomic level. It has also been proven that increasing the diversity of leadership teams improves the quality of company innovation and financial success.
Why isn’t there more significant growth in the renewable energy sector if completing the gender gap has been demonstrated to have different usefulness?
Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective, a study by IRENA, identifies gender norms, social and cultural practices as significant roadblocks. Women have been less suited to technical disciplines than men for a long time. Women in emerging countries with little or no specialized training are discouraged, particularly in rural regions. On average, fewer women than males choose to work in STEM professions, but supplying girls with more helpful career information and female role models can help to increase the proportion of women in these sectors. This could lead to biased hiring procedures or the misconception that women are unsuited for specific tasks, such as installation work, where physical strength is a hindrance. According to the IRENA report, career growth is further hampered by a lack of mentoring opportunities and access to informal networks, unequal salary, and rigid working hours.
More women in leadership roles in renewable energy can help create a virtuous cycle in which more women enter the profession and businesses become more women-friendly. Wandee Khunchornyakong, a Thai woman who pioneered solar electricity, founded a solar power firmly in 1993 that now owns 36 solar farm projects across the country and employs 60% women.
Women play a crucial role in expanding access to renewable energy.
Women in rural areas may serve as energy entrepreneurs and users as small-scale renewable energy development and power efficiency projects become more prevalent. Women may play an essential role in deploying renewable energy to replace fossil fuel supplies. They have the most significant stake in expanding access to power because they are typically the most contrived. Women can readily share with female end-users in specific countries where artistic standards limit interaction by entering residences to establish equipment when male household members are not. For example, Barefoot College strives to break down traditional gender stereotypes and empower women to aid their communities in emerging nations. They achieve this by training rural women to create, build, and support solar systems that provide energy and hot water to their residents.
The IEA interviewed women solar energy entrepreneurs who encountered the standard difficulty of persuading financial institutions to lend money to their enterprises and forming networks and collaborations. Women in emerging nations are frequently less financially independent than men, with a lower likelihood of owning or actively using a bank account on average. Female entrepreneurs understand various business prospects, financial facilities, and bank services on the demand side. Women are generally disadvantaged since they have less capital to invest or collateral to borrow against. On the supply side, according to a study conducted by the Asia Foundation, bank managers frequently lack confidence in business plans submitted by women, which they perceive to be riskier by default. In addition, a Goldman Sachs survey found that female entrepreneurs in India were nearly twice as likely as male entrepreneurs to have their loans denied.
Video Courtesy: International Energy Agency