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23 June 2020
Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day
Today marks the seventh International Women in Engineering Day, a global celebration of women’s achievements in STEM fields and a day to raise awareness on the wide range of diverse career opportunities available to women in this sector. Despite great progress towards gender equality in the past decades, women continue to be underrepresented in jobs requiring STEM knowledge, and the wind industry is no exception.
In 2019, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) together with IRENA and the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) conducted the first-of-its-kind survey to gather gender-disaggregated data on workforce distribution in the wind industry.
The survey highlights that women constitute only 21% of the wind energy workforce, of which only 20% are employed in STEM disciplines globally on average.
This issue is pervasive in the renewable energy industry. The 2019 ‘Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective’ report published by IRENA found that women constitute only 32% of the renewable energy workforkce, and on average only 28% of women employed in the renewable energy industry occupy jobs requiring STEM knowledge.
In the wind sector, the main barriers to women’s entrance in the workforce are perception of gender roles, cultural and social norms followed by lack of gender targets, prevailing hiring practices, self-perception, workplace policies and lack of awareness of opportunities.
Remarkably, the survey highlights that the lack of a STEM or non-STEM background is a less relevant barrier for women wanting to work in the sector compared to other barriers such as perception of gender roles and the persistence of certain social and cultural norms. In other words, the majority of respondents are confident that women working in the field are properly prepared to enter the sector.
In light of these findings, it is necessary to re-think the cultural biases and gender stereotypes that often keep women from pursuing STEM careers, most importantly ensuring that globally women and men have access to transformative and empowering education where gendered career paths are challenged starting from an early age.
There is no perfect formula for diversity, but a wide range of initiatives can be taken from re-thinking hiring practices, creating more flexible and inclusive work environments and ensuring that women are represented at the decision-making level are some helpful measures.
When it comes to engineering, diversification of the workforce is necessary in order to maximize talent-driven innovation and identify critical solutions related to energy demand, energy efficiency, electrification and decarbonization.
As one of the fastest-growing industrial sectors, the wind industry has the potential to support thriving local economies and create millions of jobs, and it is fundamental that both men and women equally benefit from jobs created in this sector.
Engineers are vital to #ShapeTheWorld, driving innovation and accelerating progress towards a more sustainable and resilient society. Every step taken in this field increases our collective ability to face present and future challenges.
The Women in Wind Global Leadership Program was established in 2019 to promote the role of women as agents of change in society, and to support women’s professional development in STEM and non-STEM fields via mentorship, skills-sharing and knowledge transfer.
Share your thoughts on the importance of a diverse workforce in the clean energy industry with [email protected] or posting on social media using the hashtag #WomeninWind.
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