Gender justice in the energy industry
Employment in the energy industry is extremely gender-imbalanced everywhere in the world. Globally, women make up 6 per cent of technical staff, 4 per cent of decision-makers, and only 1 per cent of top management in the fossil fuel-based sector. Women are also highly underrepresented globally in the renewable energy sector.
Data from industrialized countries such as Canada, the US, Spain, Germany and Italy estimates that fewer than 25 per cent of jobs in renewable energy are held by women, and these are mostly lower-paid non-technical and administrative positions. This employment data contrasts sharply with the fact that women represent more than 50 per cent of university students and almost half the labour force in these countries.
Concerns about environmental sustainability and fossil fuel insecurity have convinced many industrialized, emerging and developing economies to transition to low-carbon energy supplies derived from renewables such as solar, hydro, bioenergy, geothermal and wind. Since producing and distributing renewables is more labour-intensive than producing and distributing fossil fuels, this shift is creating new employment opportunities and addressing energy poverty in remote or under-served communities.
Although there is tremendous potential to create employment in the renewable energy sector almost everywhere in the world, there is a growing concern that women, who are already drastically underrepresented in that sector, will become even more marginalized if gender equity policies and programs are not proactively planned and implemented.
As Canada Research Chair in Global Women’s Issues, Bipasha Baruah will identify patterns in women’s employment in renewable energy in industrialized, emerging and developing economies, and make recommendations for optimizing women’s participation in that sector.