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January 23, 2021
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GWNET report highlights the value of women in the sustainable energy sector

For the energy transitions that are underway around the world to be scaled up and accelerated to meet agreed-upon climate goals and to overcome extreme poverty, sustainable energy needs to harness talent in all its forms and foster innovation across a vast array of skills, applications and specializations. This is one conclusion of the recently published Women for Sustainable Energy report from the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET).

The report says a sustainable energy sector is emerging and projected to grow significantly, from a current 11 million employees to 42 million employees in 2050. This global energy transition offers a chance to transition to a more inclusive workforce and to societies that leave no one behind.

This study examined:

  • How well women are integrated into the corporate sustainable energy sector;
  • Which obstacles women encounter; and
  • What recommendations – building on existing experiences and emerging best-practice – can be put forward to promote women’s participation on a par with men’s in sustainable energy.

The study initially looks at women’s employment, in particular in corporate structures. More light needs to be shed on how to fully unleash women’s potential in the context of providing access to modern energy services to the currently non-served populations of about 840 million (for power) and 2.9 billion (for modern cooking facilities).

Given significant evidence that the inclusion of women in leadership roles on corporate boards and executive levels is good for the bottom line – increasing company profitability, decreasing risk – and that it enhances companies’ engagement with sustainability, the persistence of underrepresentation and undervaluation of women in sustainable energy companies is puzzling. This study makes comprehensive recommendations to better the situation.

The industry is far from being gender-balanced, with maximum estimates of only 22% of women in the traditional energy sector and 32% in the renewable energy workforce and with women traditionally underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. But sustainable energy attracts younger and often value-oriented employees. It is still emerging and therefore has the potential of creating structures and processes that are more inclusive and innovation-friendly than more established sectors. The study advocates for leveraging this potential for sustainable energy to make societies more inclusive and just.

The concluding recommendations look at what can be done to support women already engaged in sustainable energy and what can be done to make the sustainable energy sector more inclusive. Targeted special messages suggesting concrete activities are addressed to individuals, business and educational entities, governments, intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations. The study is intended to be a tool for policymakers and practitioners who want to accelerate an inclusive and far-reaching energy transition.

GWNET aims to advance the global energy transition by empowering women in energy through interdisciplinary networking, advocacy, training, coaching and mentoring. GWNET seeks to address the current gender imbalances in the energy sector and to promote gender-sensitive action around the energy transition in all parts of the world.


The upcoming HYDROVISION International event features a luncheon designed to recognize women who have made and/or are continuing to make significant contributions to the hydro industry by sharing their unique talents and vision to improve and advance the hydro industry. Several women will receive awards during this lunch. Click here to learn more and to register.

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