Why we need more women and girls in science to drive the energy transition

 

Today marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, established by the UN to raise awareness on the long-standing implicit biases and gender stereotypes faced by girls and women in STEM-related disciplines.

Collaboration, human talent and innovation are determining factors for a successful energy transition, but recent studies demonstrate that the renewable energy industry fails to fully harness women’s skills and talent. When girls opt -out of science-related disciplines because of gender-related barriers and norms, we collectively lose out on opportunities to drive the energy transition forward at scale and speed.
 
UNESCO data shows that only 30% of all female students pursue STEM fields in higher education. These findings were confirmed in our 2019 Wind Energy: A Gender Perspective report conducted in collaboration with IRENA, which shows that women make up on average only 32% of the renewable energy workforce and 21% of the wind energy workforce. Crucially, STEM roles in the sector reflect a low rate of representation by women  at only 14%, while 20% of non-STEM roles and 35% of administrative roles are held by women.
 

Diversification of the workforce in the renewable energy sector is necessary in order to maximize talent-driven innovation and identify critical solutions related to energy demand, energy efficiency, electrification and decarbonization. However, a lack of strong professional networks, leadership role models and valuable mentorship opportunities form obstacles to women’s full professional development in the renewable energy sector, according to the report.

The report, based on a landmark global survey of 1,000 respondents from more than 70 countries, also highlights the barriers to retention faced by women in the wind energy workforce: lack of fairness and transparency in workplaces, a perceived gender pay gap as well as a lack of flexible working options which allow a balance of work and personal commitments. Prevailing sociocultural norms, as well as the perception of a glass ceiling, formed key barriers to women’s advancement in the sector.
 
The survey tells us that mentorship, empowerment, training opportunities  and the creation of effective professional networks are crucial for advancing women’s careers in a male-dominated industry.
 
To address this problem and advance the role of women as key contributors in the global wind energy sector, GWEC and the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition launched the Women in Wind Global Leadership Program, now in its second year, with the goal of supporting women from all disciplines across the wind industry.
 

The program is designed to empower women in the wind industry and accelerate their careers through mentorship, skills-sharing and networking opportunities. Diversity in background and geography is at the core of the program, which is open to applicants from 19 emerging markets for wind. Applications for the 2020 edition are now open until 16 February, and available here: https://gwec.net/women-in-wind/apply/.

 

 

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