According to a report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy industry currently employs about 32% of women, compared to 22% in the global oil and gas industry.
The report examines the question of gender equity throughout the sector. Based on the survey of employees, companies, and institutions, it found out that a lot needs to be done to boost women’s participation and allow them to showcase their talents and grow in the industry. The report titled, ‘Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective’ seeks to improve the understanding of the interplay between renewable energy and gender.
For the study, IRENA interviewed nearly 1,500 women, men, and organizations from the renewable energy sector from over 140 countries. IRENA received responses from almost 1,155 individuals and 285 from various organizations spread across the globe.
“Still, in renewables, women’s participation is much lower in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs than in administration,” states the report.
Despite the appeal of the sector, women face persistent barriers to entry and to remain in the workforce, and progress, according to IRENA’s report.
“Removing these barriers is essential to meet the growing demand for skills in an expanding industry,” states the report.
According to the study, perceptions of gender roles are seen as barriers to entry into the sector. These are driven by cultural and social norms that influence many of the fundamental decisions people make.
The survey also noted that women in the access context (where energy access is still being established or expanded) face barriers to participation in the sector. Respondents to the survey noted cultural and social norms, lack of gender-sensitive programs and policies, and lack of skills and training opportunities as crucial barriers.
“Views about gender roles also translate into a lack of access to career information and relevant networks for women. They also shape hiring practices as well as the degree to which women have access to such employment entry points as internships and apprenticeships,” the report added.
According to respondents, ingrained social and cultural norms play a crucial role in the barriers to improve gender balance. Nearly 60 to 80% of the respondents expressed preferences for workplace policies that promote training, gender-sensitive policies, diversity targets, networking, and mentoring.
“The more these norms change – a process that inevitably takes time – the more effective other measures will be,” the report added.
To improve women’s engagement in the renewable energy sector, the respondents pointed out the importance of access to training and skills development programs.
To bring gender equality in the renewable sector, IRENA has suggested some measures.
These measures include tailoring the training and skills development, attracting and retaining talent in the sector, challenging cultural and social norms, and mainstreaming gender in energy sector frameworks.
“Including women more fully in the renewable energy sector is critical to the success of making the energy system inclusive and sustainable,” stated the report.
IRENA estimates that the number of jobs in renewables could increase from 10.3 million in 2017 to nearly 29 million in 2050.
Last year, IRENA published a report which said that the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies has helped generate 11 million employment opportunities in the global renewable energy industry in 2018.
Previously, its report said that the global renewable energy industry created more than 500,000 new jobs worldwide in 2017. This was a 5.3% increase from 2016, according to IRENA. The total number of people employed in the sector surpassed the 10-million mark for the first time in 2017.
Image credit: National Catholic Reporter
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.